Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the Jersey shore, thanks to the generosity of a dear friend. While I was there, I sat by the ocean for several hours and just listened to the roar of the waves. While soaking in the beautiful sights and sounds of the shore, I was reminded of how powerful the water truly is.
This led me to reflect on other things that are very powerful. Since I had received an email earlier in the day that perhaps could have been written differently, I said to myself “words are powerful too!” They can build people up just as easily as they can tear them down. It made me stop and think: do I use my words carefully?
Some ordinary people who had great opportunity to use their words for good were the Prophets. The words of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Ezekiel, and Jesus were very powerful indeed. Although they could have been viewed as condemning people, this is not so; they were crying out to help them to become aware of the way they were living. The prophets spoke of being faithful to God, of loving without measure, of being steadfast in adversity, and being more aware of our lives’ situations. The prophet’s words, whether from thousands of years ago or now, are challenging. There will always be an element of judgement in their speech, but it will be coupled with compassion. You truly can’t have one without the other.
So, what about me, us? How and what words to we speak? Do we encourage people, or are we harsh and condemning? Am I capable of taming my tongue? (James 3:1-18 raised that question.) Do we say things we later regret? Why is it so much easier to jump on the bandwagon of hate and cruelty in word and action than to encourage people who may need the extra TLC? Are we capable of seeing an unjust situation and dealing with it in a compassionate way?
I recently read somewhere that before you speak you should take a piece of paper, crumple it up into a ball then try and smooth it out again. The creases you created will always be there, impossible to erase or ignore. So it is with people; once words are spoken, they can’t be taken back, and we will always bear the mark of whatever harm they may do.
The power of water and the power of words. I think at times, it is easier to deal with the power of water! Once I remember saying to a Sister that I just loved creation. Her response to me was “that is easy! Loving people is the challenge”. She was so right, especially when we speak of how we treat one another. Nature doesn’t talk back!
Spend some time this week thinking about the power of your words. How do you see your words affecting those around you? Can you learn to tame your tongue? The power lies within all of us; how do you wield the power of your words? Hopefully, with compassion.
Till next week,