In recent months I have increasingly considered the power of words. Yes, this has a lot to do with my profession as a mental health counselor. I tend to think a lot more about how I ask questions, phrase things, and approach sensitive topics. In fact, one of the very first things I learned in my counseling training was to listen well and to ask questions well. Questions that open people up to answer beyond a simple yes or no. Questions that point to a deeper meaning or experience in a client’s life. So, naturally, this is partly why I am more aware of words on a daily basis.
But I am also much more aware of the power of words since getting married. (Smile). Nathan and I are balancing forces to one another. I am extroverted, talkative, outspoken and quick to comment on whatever is being said. My mind is a busybody–and might possibly resemble a 4-way intersection in the heart of New York City, with cars honking and rushing, and others swerving and pushing through the crowd like yellow cabs trying to speed to the next stop. There’s not a whole lot of down time in my head. Thoughts sweep through, followed by critical analysis and internal comment, and inevitably some sort of spoken statement. Nathan, on the other hand, is much more thoughtful and patient. He doesn’t tend to use his words quickly without having processed them first. So as you can imagine, our opposite traits require work on both of our parts in order to communicate well. And as I am a first-hand witness of, words have a lot of power in relationships. We can either build up or tear down by means of what we say. Sometimes it just seems easier to shoot of the cuff and make a snide remark, doesn’t it? It takes a lot less energy, control, and character. It feels good to bite back, to accuse, to shame, and to snarl. But the repercussions, though often unseen, are significant.
James 3 relates the tongue to a rudder on a ship. Though small, it steers the whole vessel and the course it will take. Likewise, the tongue is a small thing, but it has the ability to defile the entirety of the body through its “great boasts.” Boy, doesn’t this ring true?! Am I the only one who has stood amazed at the power of a person’s statements (and my own many a time!!) and the impact they can have on another’s life?!
Destructive words tear down, injure, and break a person’s soul.
Kind words lift up, heal, and restore a person’s soul.
Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. ~Proverbs 16:24
So with this in mind, I consider the implications of my own .W..O..R..D..S. It seems we cannot dismiss the little pink, flappy muscle in our mouths, and especially the heart and its motives that determine the fruit of it.
I ask myself, then, and you as well… Which do we choose—Words of honey, or words of poison? Words to heal, or words to injure? Words of life, or words of death?
I love to collect cards. I can stand in a Hallmark or Papyrus store for a long time–reading, smiling, swooning, and leaving with a handful to add to my collection of “must haves.” But I especially love to keep cards that I’ve received from loved ones. Cards filled with kindness. My quilted bulletin board is covered with keepsakes, like these in the picture above. They are reminders of many good times, of special occasions, and of relationships that I share with so many dear people. The kind words are sweet like honey to my soul.
Have you tried writing a card lately? It’s so typical to avoid the old snail-mail and jump right to the internet for all communication these days. I love the advantages of technology, but I also know that sometimes there is no better thing than to receive a handwritten love note, an ” I miss you,” a vote of confidence, or a “thank you for everything.” To open a letter that’s traveled from 3 states away, or from a country abroad, marked with signs of a journey. How lovely, how nice!
Remember the days of pen pals?! Update letters from distant relatives? Such communication seems SLOOOOooooOOW these days, when compared to the FAST FAST world of smartphones, email, Facebook, video chat, etc. But I believe there is no replacement for the occasional sentiment shared by pen and paper. Ink on a page. Swirling letters on a line, reflecting one’s style, personality, and thoughtfulness.
Give it a try. Think about whom you might like to write this week. That person who needs a good laugh or smile, or an update on your life. That loved one who will croon when your note peeks out of the mailbox. Share those words of honey, my friends!
Blessings to you,