Last night, the ladies at my church started a new study called The Power of a Woman’s Words by Sharon Jaynes. I am excited about this study in part because the subject resonates with me. This may be because my love language is words of affirmation. I wrote the following about the power of words when I was in High School.
As the first of the senior began to walk down the aisle, Doretha leaned over and whispered to me, “Next year it will be your turn.” My only reply was a smile as I thought of all the plans and dreams that I had for the coming year and the years after. I was happy.
But that was then. Now, less than three months later, that moment is only a memory. Today, once again my dreams were shattered in a split second by her words. I had heard them before in a hundred different ways, but the meaning was always the same. The words had been burned into mind and memory, until at last, I started believing them. Now they seemed to shout at me. I used to believe them. Yes, I used to believe that I was, indeed, stupid and useless. I thought I had overcome that, but now, as my head pounds with the words, the tiniest doubt emerges once again, and I believe them.
They are only words, some would say. Words? Yes, but words are strange tools that hold a certain power. Or should I say that we who use these words hold the power. In only a fraction of a minute, words can tear a heart to pieces or induce a pain that cannot be equaled by even the greatest physical pain.
But words can also create hope for a person who has lost all hope. And with their healing touch, they provide encouragement that another person needs to get up and try again. I, myself, have known a time or two when the kind words of one person have somehow sanded away the cruel words of many.
There are, however, those less fortunate than I, who have lived a life filled with unkind words. For these people, kind words alone are not enough to heal the hurt and pain they must feel. In this case, kind words are only a beginning.
A beginning. This is my hope in writing this now. Each of us would do well to take a good, long look at our own use of words. We would do well to listen to the words we use when talking about the young person sitting alone in the corner. We laugh and say, “But they are only words.” But those words may be etched into the memory of someone who is about to commit suicide. Can we then say that they were only words?
There is power in words, whether spoken or written. The Bible talks about the power of words. They can be sweet as honey (Pr 16:24) or cut like a sword (Ps 63:3) . As Christians, our words should be used to“speak life” into others. I’m looking forward to stepping back and evaluating my use of words during this study.