May I have a word with you? Each time I share something from my heart I lay myself open and vulnerable by confessing my personal struggles. I share things like my jack rabbit brain that will not be tamed, my inner battle to “judge not” and my deepest fear of time running out before I understand myself or make any difference for having lived.
My confession to you this time is, I am a lexiphile and you have to be one to even care what it means. I am obsessed with words and I am a wordy woman. I read constantly and I love a well-turned phrase or a profound quote even more than a delectable meal or a great new outfit. I believe words have incredible power. The English language contains more words than any other and can be combined in infinite ways to precisely and colorfully describe a moment, an emotion, a thought. It is a delicious Crayola box for creating stories and painting pictures in the mind.
I have been following a young writer, Jeff Goins. Early in life he thought he would live to travel and be a missionary and he did a lot of both, but his true passion and greatest gift is his ability to spin a great phrase. He is still just a kid but a very wise one indeed. In this week’s blog post he wrote, “Words can tell people they matter or that you believe in them. They can also tear down and destroy, hurt and wound and make you question yourself. But there’s no denying it: words have weight. So why do we — why do I — disregard their power?”
We can easily encourage or discourage someone by what we say and the choice is always ours. Brené Brown is another one of my favorite contemporary authors. (Watch her TED talk, truly amazing!) She talks a lot about courage and begins by teaching us that the origin of the word is cor, the Latin word for “heart” and it is easy to see the connection. In fact when someone is said to have great courage, it can also be said they have a lot of heart. And I would add that harsh words can break hearts.
This week Jeff reminded us what words can do to people or for people. “There is something powerful about the words we share with one another”. Each of us has the ability to change a moment and sometimes even someone’s life by the words we choose. We all have the nearly divine power to build up or to strike down, to inspire or dishearten someone with our words.
To me, the choice is clear. We are here to help each other on this journey that is life. With the knowledge that our words have such power, it is important to listen more than we talk and think before we speak. Spoken words can’t be taken back any more than we can un-ring a bell.
So what does the Bible teach us about what we say to others? In Proverbs 12:25 “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” And also from Proverbs; 25:11 we hear “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver”. We can all remember a time when a few words made all the difference. I encourage you to choose your words wisely and even more importantly, with love.