gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. -proverbs
words are powerful. i never believed the childhood chant, “stick and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”. i may have chanted the saying a time or two but i was soon finding a quiet place to release the tears that were pooling in my eyes. you might say, “yeah, but that’s because you’re a big girl!”
the real truth is that words are creative and give us power. Genesis tells us that God created with His words. you might think, “yeah, but that was God.” or maybe you don’t believe it at all. i have never created as magnificent a creation as i see described in the creation story, yet i have seen my words (and the words of others) create. have i got your attention?
you and i will never really understand the impact the words (we have let come out of our mouths) have had on the lives of others. i see some pretty dramatic examples in the news concerning texting/social media bullying that lead to suicide. i am angered. the bullying words create an atmosphere in that person’s heart. whether it’s the seed or the end result of the suicide. i didn’t read the text, i didn’t witness the suicide yet the news (spoken words or written) have, firstly, created a belief. i believed the story to be true. secondly. those words produced a reaction in my heart. then, if i allow them to, they can create an action on my part; i might join the cause to stamp out bullying for those around me, i might act harshly toward someone i perceive as a bully in my circle of influence or i might pass the information on. all because someone spoke words in the vicinity of my heart.
we women love a good novel. give me a romance novel and i will be dreaming, swooning, crying and living a characters life in my mind. novels are lovely entertainment. i enjoy Francine Rivers writings. Redeeming Love is one of my favourites. it’s a story of unconditional love. reading a novel will feed the hope in the heart that my mundane, painful or difficult life (if that is the case at the time) is not the only option. it can cause my heart to hope. the sad part is it can also cause my heart to fantasize until it reaches a place of discontent.
i’ve learned with one phrase i can withdraw respect from my husband. he is a respected businessman. he is a good friend. however, my words used unwisely can in one fail swoop make him forget for the moment that he is respected. respect is vital to men. it’s a power i hold in my tongue. a weapon or tool. sadly, i’ve used it, too. despicable, right? be careful, don’t judge me…i’d be safe to say, you have shamefully used that power as well.
it’s easier to tame wild animals than our words.
we love inspirational words, quotes and compliments. they feed our heart and souls. they are like the sunlight…warm and nourishing.
i don’t believe that anyone wakes up in the morning with a plan to use their words to wound another person. maybe that makes me naïve. the search for significance, justice and self preservation lead down that path.
with power comes responsibility. if i can recognize that i possess this tool with such powerful potential, i need to take the responsibility seriously. i wouldn’t buy a chainsaw and not follow the safety instructions unless i want to leave myself or my family maimed. personally, i can not see a benefit to cutting off a hand, finger or worse. i don’t want to live with the results either. my life would so much more difficult to live if i couldn’t walk or didn’t have my thumb. in the same manner, my husband’s need for respect is as important to his well being and functionality. gossip (which is the tool we use to discredit someone’s character) can change a person’s ability to function as a friend, co-worker, parent, etc. you might think you words to be insignificant…unless you’ve ever been maimed yourself by the power of someone words and tried to function following the impact. however, the wounds of the heart are often hidden, different to physical wounds or amputations. when hidden, the responsibility can be denied or minimized. it takes an open, compassionate heart to look honestly at this responsibility and work to apply discipline.
safety instructions i find helpful:
- think before i speak. i know easier to say than do. i like the “t.h.i.n.k.” poster. ask myself: is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind. by the time i’ve stopped and run through those 5 principles, i’m less likely to “spout” off something hurtful. holding my tongue is a discipline i can practice.
- this is my problem. i know, i know….sometimes people need to hear what we have to say. that makes it my problem. i’m a problem solver. remember when i talked to you about how hysteria discounts the issue? it applies here. how i say what needs to be said, can either cause people to tune me out or open up to solutions. my problem is understanding that my feelings are mine to own, my emotional reactions are my responsibility and the successful solution is within my power, if i am wise.
- speaking is a privilege. sharing my heart is a privilege not a right. i have a right to an opinion but sharing it is a gift. we get confused about the reality of the “right”. i have a right to my opinion! i have a “right” to freedom of speech. it’s a gift if someone i care about offers me the opportunity to share it with them. if i abuse my “right”, my privilege of speech and willing listeners might be withdrawn. i must use respect. seriously, if someone continuously abuses their right to speech in a hurtful way…i walk out of hearing distance pretty quickly.
- Do-over. i miss it sometimes. i say the wrong thing at the wrong time. i need the opportunity to re-do, or re-say what i’ve said. i can try again but if i’m not getting it right it’s time to stop. it’s pretty easy to tell with my husband because he will just say, “stop!”. basically, my communication is clearly not working and i need to take time to restructure my thoughts and words. it’s ok…again, the world will not end if i don’t get to “spill it” right then.
- respect. simple. i want respect…i need to offer respect. if i would react poorly to my words if someone else spoke them to me…i don’t need to use them. most often, i would never allow someone to say things to me that i am tempted to say. i can discipline myself better if i put the shoe on the other foot.
- use you words. in the movie, Step Mom, Susan Sarandon, tells her son, “use your words” when he’s frustrated and saying hurtful things. i liked it so i applied to my discipline list for myself. i want to make my words purposeful, healing, encouraging and inspirational. reminding myself that i have set that purpose for my life is effective.
- relationship first. people come into my life for a reason. i have a circle of influence. people i can impact. i also need to be influenced. i have things to learn. good working relationships are vital if i am going to influence or be influenced (mentored). relationships require building. i must remember to use the right building resources if i want it to have a good foundation. i can even influence strangers or people i might never meet again…i’d hate to think i left a hurtful footprint on their heart. i have the power to create beauty. our world needs it desperately.
i use these guidelines for myself. i am responsible for me, no one else. however, they can also be used as healthy boundaries for others who are not using the power of their words toward me in a respectful way. it requires that i explain my healthy boundaries for interaction. it allows me to keep myself safe from hurtful situations. i intend to hold myself to this standard but i am not a door mat. i respect myself too much to allow someone else to continually misuse their words at my expense. do-overs are granted. crossed boundaries offers me the opportunity to withdraw the privilege of hearing their words if they insist on continuing the behaviour. i can then respectfully let them know where i stand. no melt-down required.
is it true for you? like the sun, your words…are they giving light, nourishment, healing and hope?
Remember, gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. -proverbs
inspire someone today…it might be the seed of hope that changes their entire life!
hope to see you again soon,