Words. Nothing more powerful. More encouraging…..Emotive. Destructive. Attractive, And about as many more adjectives as you could come up with.
But that first word, powerful is maybe the one that overshadows the rest, and gives all the other adjectives their weight. Also the one we maybe too often forget.
Words that carry the most weight and power are often fueled by the most driving force in our humanity: emotion, and that is both wonderful and scary depending on the circumstances.
I’ve been thinking lately about my communications and where my “ugly” words come from. Not necessarily horrible, but just the ones that come off wrong, are misinterpreted, lack tact and just in general convey a “me” I don’t like.
Where do those come from? Well, after some thought, I believe they usually they come from places of fear, hurt, desperation, frustration, and the like.
There have been a couple instances lately where maybe the gist of what I said was fine, but in hindsight I really didn’t like the reflection it painted of myself to the person I was communicating with and maybe caused hurt or frustration.
The most recent example was an email to a doctor. Nothing basically wrong with my content, but I had to think after his reply that I hoped I wasn’t frustrating him or questioning his wisdom. This really made me think about my feelings when I was writing, and I realized I was frustrated, worried and a little desperate, both with myself and what was going on in my body.
Not a good foundation, because my words came from that emotional base.
The Bible of course has a good deal to say about the tongue and our words:
Proverbs 11:9 “Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.”
Proverbs 11:12 “It is foolish to belittle a neighbor; a person with good sense remains silent.”
Proverbs 11:17 “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.”
Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”
Proverbs 18:4 “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”
And of course most of James chapter 3 in regards to the tongue. The majority of a chapter of the Bible devoted to the destructive power of words!
Great! But, it goes deeper than that, and deeper is where I have been introspecting myself. A few quick questions to cut through the layers to get to the source:
Where do words come from? The brain.
Okay, what prompts the brain to create the words? Um, thought processes and emotions.
Hmmmm, what fuels those thought processes and emotions? Character.
Whoa, So basically who we are.
Who should be in charge of our character? God.
So this is a great (although be it uncomfortable) process to go through with the Lord when you find your words lacking, hurting, harsh, sarcastic, condescending, always being misunderstood, or falling short of kindness or clarity. In some cases just focusing on your recipient and not your agenda is all you need, but more often than not you need Jesus to take a magnifying glass to places in your heart you didn’t even know needed work. Trust me, there is no better heart surgeon than Jesus.
Being opened up is always uncomfortable, but having tumors removed is ALWAYS profitable.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”