I don’t know about you, I had a childhood that was good but at times, a bit rough. I was a “husky” kid growing up and always was taking the brunt of someone’s jokes or in some cases, their physical abuse. One of the ways I combatted that was throwing back at them “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” It was a coping mechanism for me, pushing the “bad mojo” back on the person or persons who were bothering me. Sound familiar? For many, I believe so.
I was also taught by my parents that if you do not have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Great advice but did I listen to it? For the longest time no, I didn’t. I ended up being just as bad or even worse than those individuals who were harassing me. I was the master of throwing about invectives that I knew were probably hurtful but I went with them anyways. Once again, it was a coping mechanism for me and you would think that with what I dealt with growing up, I would have learned that I should not be treating people the way I was being treated because it was hurtful. I guess I wasn’t a very a good student, was I?
That all changed when I met my wife (30+ years ago) and she started to bring me back to my faith. I started to see in her, someone who used their gifts for the good of others and not to demean them, even when she was being placed in positions that were hurtful for her. It was never about her, it was always about the other person and how she could help to make their day a little better, a little more joyful. Her positive words for me and for others helped to set me on the path that I am on today; one of faithful service to our Lord, Jesus Christ, and his beloved sons and daughters.
Why do I share this with you? Two reasons. One, words and actions truly can hurt. They can affect others in ways that we may never know. Ways that may never allow them to become the person that He created them to be. Two, words and actions truly can be restorative and we all have the chance to change our ways, to become the type of person God is calling us to be. I am a prime example of the healing power of words and actions and using those same words and actions to make a difference in someone’s life.
Today, I am recommending that you spend time reading the book of Proverbs. It is filled with great insight and wisdom as to how we should live our lives and treat the lives of others. Specifically, there are numerous verses that relate to the power of words and how when used as He wants us to use them, can bring beauty, joy, comfort, and compassion into the lives of our friends, family, and even strangers (probably most importantly, strangers). Here are some of my favorites:
“He who belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” – Prov 11:12 NAB
“A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” – Prov 11:17 NAB
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Prov 15:1 NAB
“The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Prov 15:2 NAB
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Prov 15:4 NAB
I will leave you today with a quote from one of my favorites; Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Her words were typically few but carried such great impact, just as her actions did. I believe it fitfully sums up my message from today. I pray that it may impact you the way it did me when I read it for the first time.
Peace and Blessings.