“The language we use to communicate with one another is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great good. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm.” Exactly as it is with our words.” – Source Unknown
Back when I was in college studying graphic design, I had very looooong lab courses that lasted up to 5 hours of repetitive practice. At times it was very frustrating and tiring, but I learned to adapt to and even like it. However, there was one thing I could not get used to and it was a female classmate I would sometimes sit next to during class. At first impression, she appeared low-key, harmless and quiet, but when she would get frustrated or angry, she would express herself using a slew of negative statements with very “colorful” words. After hours of tolerating her bad attitude and hearing the negativity of her words, I found myself extremely agitated and stressed. Simply sitting next to her was exhausting and it took much time and effort to recover from her when class was over. Using only her words, she had single-handedly made the space we shared quite miserable! If only 5 hours caused me to run for the hills, I could only imagine what it was like to actually be her, living it 24/7.
“Sailing ships are driven by strong winds. But a small rudder turns a large ship whatever way the man at the wheel wants the ship to go. The tongue is also a small part of the body, but it can speak big things. See how a very small fire can set many trees on fire. The tongue is a fire. It is full of wrong. It poisons the whole body. The tongue sets our whole lives on fire with a fire that comes from hell.” – James 3:4-5 (NLV)
A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the power of our thoughts, but this round I want to share information concerning the power of our words. Words hold much weight and has the power to set the very course our lives and the lives of others. Words are not just a group of syllables that vanish in thin air once they’re released, but they take on the form of “invisible seeds” that continue on and grow. Part of why words are so powerful is that our minds grasps what is said and begins to program and feed on the contents of those words. So if it’s negative words that pollute our space, our minds will begin to absorb and respond to the very essence of those words that will cause a ripple effect in our attitudes, behaviors and lives, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.
Think about it…when we were children, another child would say something mean or hurtful, we would go tell and sometimes we were told the ‘sticks and stones speech’. Personally, I didn’t buy it because the negative statements said to or about me cut like a knife and created wounds that followed me for a very long time. For years I struggled with confidence because I put too much focus on my flaws and harsh words said, then those negative thoughts and attitudes begin to dictate the direction and motivation of my life’s decisions. I became a people-pleaser because I didn’t want to be disliked, I attempted to over achieve because I hated feeling like a failure. I was on the road to self-destruction all stemming from the negative words. If my story doesn’t convince you, take some time to read the many stories of celebrities, actors, and other public figures who indulged in destructive behavior after constantly being pelted with insults concerning their outward appearances and lifestyle habits. There is also a growing trend of cyber-bullying cases that trigger many everyday youth into unhealthy reactions that end in deep emotional scaring and even death. Words do hurt!
“ Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.
Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” – Proverbs 18:20-21 (The Message)
But wait–There’s hope! When used correctly, words can be great boosters. Positive words can uplift and set ones life in the right direction and have the power to loose us from the power of the negative words (and attitudes) that have us bounded. While negative words tear down, great words build up. When we choose to say and listen to words that edify and build up, we’re able to lead lives of substance and quality. Positive words are like fresh water that refreshes the souls of those that receive them. Thankfully, I was raised by a very encouraging mother who showered me with encouragement and showed me how to properly overcome the wounds of the negative words by helping me focus on the truth of who I really was—a wonderful creation made by a wonderful God! I admit, the destructive effects of the negative words didn’t go away overnight, but overtime, I learned how to uproot its hold on me by renewing my mind with the wonderful and beautiful things God’s word had to say about me, my life, value and purpose. From then on, I begin to learn that I didn’t have to accept every thing that I heard, but I have a choice to accept what words are beneficial to hear or say and dismiss the ones that are not.
“Be careful of the words you say, keep them short and sweet.
You never know, from day to day, which ones you’ll have to eat.” – Anonymous
Our words carry tremendous power, so let’s use them responsively and generously because what we say does matter! So before we utter our next word about anything or anyone (including ourselves), it’s imperative to weigh what we plan to say. Will our words benefit or hinder the matter(s) at hand? Remember, it’s our choice—so choose wisely! 😉