Words are so powerful. I might be stating the obvious here, but I think this truth doesn’t sink in deep enough. Otherwise, we would definitely be more loving in our speech, more considerate of the words we use and better at biting our tongue. But, we don’t see that everyday, do we? Being considerate and kind seem to be more like the exception than the rule.
Sometimes I think it’s a blessing in disguise when we find it hard to articulate our thoughts, feelings and desires. Maybe then we’ll be more cautious of the things we say and the words we let pass through our lips. When we stumble and struggle to express ourselves, we become more intentional with the words we choose to make audible. Honestly, both ends will benefit from a careful selection of words. On the one hand, the listener will be edified, encouraged, built up and feel loved and wanted. On the other hand, the speaker will leave the conversation knowing that he or she has been a channel of grace and a vessel of kindness.
Putting my feelings and thoughts into words has always come very easily and naturally for me. Because of this, I like to talk, a lot. (My apologies to those who have been caught at the other end of my verbal rampage. Let me know if you’re more of the sit-in-silence kind of person, I will attempt to shut up.) What I’ve realised is that the more we interact with people, the more we hone our skills in picking the right words to say and making socially-appropriate remarks. (When you hear awkward laughter, you know you gotta retreat.) The stronger we become in making conversations, the more wary we should be in ensuring we’re making good conversations. Uplifting ones. Yes, sometimes the things we have to say may be controversial and challenging, but we’ll learn how to season our words well, so they will still be flavourful, yet retain the truths we hold dear to.
I used to make really cutting remarks. Ask the people who know me best. My words can really hurt you. I know this because I’ve come to realise that it’s not just mere carelessness that eventuates in this. There’s always an intentionality behind the words that we choose, even if we don’t realise it. We say certain things because we know it will irk this person; or we omit them because we know without them we have a stronger case for ourselves. Not saying that now I don’t or shan’t hurt you with my words. I don’t think I’m there yet. The more I journey with God the more I realise how far I actually am. But that’s okay, because He’s taking me till the end.
This is not about being a nice person. It’s also not about slapping yourself whenever you say the F word, or abstaining from cussing, or reprimanding those who do. It’s about connecting the external with the internal. Why are we saying the things we say? The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. I don’t swear often, but I have never been satisfied by people’s command to not say certain words just because they were crude. Don’t say this, don’t say that. That’s the only advice they give. (Maybe a Bible verse too, which doesn’t necessarily help.) It has become more for image management than actual interest in morality. It’s frustrating. Yes I know that certain words are kindlier than others, and it’s not nice to cuss, but suppressing without addressing is not the solution either. So if you want to instruct a foul-mouthed loved one, please don’t ask him or her to just stop. It doesn’t meet any need. It doesn’t answer the anger or hurt he or she is feeling deep down. Words are powerful, because they reflect what is actually in our hearts. And if Jesus was interested in knowing and filling what was deep down in our hearts, then we should be too.