"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words cannot hurt me." I learnt this as a child and recall using this expression whenever, siblings, family members or friends and I had disagreements and they would say things that hurt. As I think back on those times, I find that I spoke those words because I did not want them to see that their words hurt; I was not as witty with my words to rebutt with something as hurtful; and I was afraid that what I would say might cause the situation to escalate into something more hurtful and I would get into trouble. For me, this was a defense, a cover for what I was feeling. The truth is: Words do hurt, and they can have lasting impact on the lives of those to whom they were said.
From the time we learn to speak as children, we began using words. According to dictionary.com, the meaning of 'words' is: speech to talk; to express one's emotion in words. Prior to our learning to speak, we communicate through other means - mainly cry. As we learn more and more words, we begin to communicate more clearly what it is we are feeling or thinking. Our first method of communicating words is done verbally, but as we get older, we learn how to write our words. In today's society, we have many more ways to communicate our words - through our actions, texting, putting them to music to name a few. But this week, I was reminded of something, I knew but sometimes forget to apply - that is - it is not the methods we use to communicate our words, or how eloquent we are with our words, but more importantly what we say, our motive, and how we say it that matters.
So often our words - kill. We rationalize our words and what we say by whatever means - I am only speaking my mind; I will not allow anyone to walk all over me; this is how I express myself; they made me so angry; I don't care, this is just me and they will have to accept me for who I am. Unfortunately, it does matter, because we do not live in this world by ourselves and we are all interdependent. What impacts us, will eventually affect others, especially those who are close to us. We ought to be careful of the words we speak, even in jest. Matthew 12:36 states, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement." We must guard our words.
Our words can at times be harsh, critical, unkind, mean, demeaning, prejudice and so many negatives. So often as I listen to my students speak to each other, and the words they use to describe each other is appalling. The Word of God tells us in Proverbs 4:24, "Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee." Proverbs 5:2 states, " Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few." Verse 6 - "Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?" We are cautioned to think before we speak. The words once spoken cannot be returned, and no matter how many times we say "I am sorry", it doesn't change the fact that those harmful words were uttered and the damage is done.
Let your words build rather than tear down lives. We must be careful of the tone with which we speak our words. Proverbs 10:12 reads, "The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself." Know that our words can create life or destroy it. In order to fix our words, that is, what comes out of our mouth, we must fix our heart. The Bible states in Luke 6:45, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."