Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones

words have powerAs a writer (yep, I’m now owning this title), there’s nothing that compares to those rare moments when you cajole the twenty-six letters of our alphabet into phrases that touch other people in some way. Whether they result in a chuckle or cause someone to take pause, words have power.

Words. Sentences. Paragraphs and everything in between are the stories of our lives. From our very first utterances as babies to the last words written in an obituary, words frame our existence.  Last week I wrote about my less than stellar listening skills which were brought to my attention. I thought this week, I’d touch on its complement – speaking.

I can remember sitting around our kitchen table and 90% of the time, the only people talking were my parents. My dad would yammer on about his day and my mom would respond in kind. Once in a while, I or one of my siblings would utter a “pass the potatoes” but that was about it.

Fast forward a few decades and conversations around the dinner table were so rampant, it was hard to keep track of the multitude of words flying around the air. We are a lively bunch – my family – and we’ve much to say. Guess it was all those years of being quiet as my dad took center stage.

Words Have Power

 Since perking up my ears this week, it has given me the opportunity to pay attention to the words that are making their way into my brain. Conversations at lunch tables have left me with aches in my sides from laughter. Those with my teenaged daughter have left me awestruck, not only for their content, but that we actually spoke for more than ten seconds about something other than the mall! Other conversations have left much to be desired.

Today we have millions of words being thrown at us from so many channels. Separating the truth from lies is an exercise in futility most days. Reacting to click-bait is so pervasive, it’s mind-blowing. Headlines tempt us to hit share buttons faster than a speeding bullet. We’ve no idea what the underlying articles may say but we feel compelled to spread the word to our peeps so they’ll be ‘in the know’.  But are they really?

“The power of life and death are in the tongue” is from Proverbs. Even thousands of years ago, it was recognized that the words we write and speak have the power to give life or take it away. Just look at the face of the person you are speaking to when you say something positive. On the contrary, observe the reaction when your words are not so favorable.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me” is a phrase that couldn’t be further from the truth. In most cases, the exact opposite is true. Physical wounds eventually heal but a broken heart from a mis-spoken word? Hmm…even a colorful Band-aid may not do the trick.

two people talking

Over the past few years, I have taken steps to begin my day with positive words. Whether they come from the devotional I hold dear to my heart or from my Bible, I want the first words of my day to be as uplifting as possible because Lord knows, it’s only a matter of minutes that the world’s words will steal that joy as it did to me many times this past week.

I struggle with people who are mean for no reason. My overabundance of compassion and empathy towards others prevent me from being intentionally mean. Oh don’t get me wrong, my dander can be raised up pretty quickly if I feel that I or my loved ones are being mistreated, but there’s justification in those rare outbursts.

Before I write my blog posts, I pray. I pray that the words I share reach their full potential. I pray that they lift up someone who may be faltering or result in a new way of thinking. I pray that my words heal because I know how it feels when these precious commodities are used otherwise.

This week I encourage you to pay attention to the words you speak. Consider the recipient’s reaction. Are your words adding value to their life or diminishing it? If you have to face a tough situation or possibly a confrontation, choose your words wisely. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see how you’d feel if you were spoken to in this way.

Take a deep breath before you speak. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you with His wisdom as you share your thoughts, feelings and intentions. Pray that the words you share will bring about the positive changes you desire in a helpful and healing way.

Jen’s Gem: Words have power. Choose them wisely.

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  (Proverbs 12:18)

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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2023