Words, words, words. I love the way they sound, the way they look, and the meaning they carry. I love studying the history and meaning of words. I love playing around with them to see which combination works best to explain something to someone else. I just love words.
Perhaps it is my love for them that gives them so much power. Or maybe, since God used words to create the entire universe, they are just powerful. Whatever the reason, words have the power to inspire, encourage, and motivate, or destroy, damage, and cause immense pain.
Sometimes, we know are words will hurt another, they may have been chosen for that purpose. In other situations, words meant for other reasons still wound the hearers of our words.
Just recently, I chose to speak the words that I would have wanted to hear. The ones that would have made me feel better. I did not take the time to think about how my friend would hear them. Thankfully, she was honest with me and let me know that my words had hurt her. It was a tough two days, but we worked through it and I am grateful that I can see another perspective.
It gave me pause to think that words meant to help instead hurt. How was I to trust my words if they were so confusing? Two things stuck out to me as I processed this incident along with a couple of others where I was wounded by words others spoke.
First, I need to be very clear on the reason I choose to speak, type, or write. My motives may have been good, but what was my true intent behind sharing them with my friend. Was it to ease my own anxiety? Was it to try and gain extra friendship points, was it me trying to prove something to her or to myself? When I take the time to examine exactly why I feel I need to share, it gives me clarity. It also allows me to choose the words that will best convey the meaning I desire them to contain. I am able to carefully choose just the ones that right for that person, that situation, and most clearly communicate my thoughts.
Second, not every word that I think needs to make its way out of my mouth. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” My thoughts don’t always meet this qualification. When a thought comes to my head that would only hurt the people I around me, I don’t need to share it. This doesn’t mean that I don’t tell people truth. Truth is valuable and necessary. Just being annoyed, or frustrated, does not give me the right to share those thoughts. I need to weigh my words carefully before sharing them with others.
All of this does mean that I won’t use as many words. The good news is that when I choose my words carefully, they are much more powerful.