“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24
“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3
“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
Words have so much power. We can use them flippantly or thoughtfully, and even just a few words can change the course of someone’s life, for better or worse. Yes, words and how we use them are important; heaven knows I’m guilty of using them unwisely and thoughtlessly. Too often, I’ve had to humble myself and ask for forgiveness from people I love – and hurt – with my words.
Something my mom used to say to me was that if I didn’t want others to read what I wrote, then I shouldn’t write it. Good advice. Today during my junior high writing class, we talked a lot about the power of words, written and spoken. We talked about the importance of measuring them, of choosing them, of guarding them. Of sometimes not saying them, and often keeping them to ourselves. Of venting to God, sometimes written, but maybe more often, not. We talked about social media and how we can use it to divide or to bless, and how we should never ever use it to announce others’ information or tell someone else’s story.
We talked about how words hurt, how we cannot take them back ~ how we should use them in ways where we wouldn’t want or need to take them back. How once they’re ‘out there’, we’d better hope we’re ok with them being out there, because in today’s world, they may always be out there, and we don’t want to regret them.
When I was in high school, I wrote a lot—in journals—and I truly thought what I wrote was profound and extremely sensitive and deep. And sooo wise! Many years later, when a friend from my high school years and I got re-acquainted, we laughed till we cried at some of those profundities. Those high school musings really seemed important at the time—but to no one but me. If anyone else saw them, they’d probably sign me up for therapy, for sure.
Not too long afterward, I burned those journals. Just doing that was therapeutic. The words I wrote as a high school girl, which at the time seemed to come deep within my soul (and maybe they did), weren’t the words I’d use today, as a person who is learning to understand my Redemption. Now I know how very important it is to choose wisely, carefully, prayerfully.
Another piece of advice, again from a mother, came from Thumper’s mom: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I might amend that just a little: if you can’t say something nice – stop – and if it needs to be said, really needs to be said – say it in a way that will be constructive and part of a solution, and say it in a way that will bless. Or as James 1:19 admonishes, be slow to speak. If we stop and asses the situation well, we may see that listening may be what is needed way more than any of our words.