As a writer, words are essential to me.
The words we use reflect our values, our soul, or who we are. Words mean something, whether spoken or printed in a story, letter, text, email, or comment. When strung together in sentences and sentences into paragraphs, the sequence of words reveals our true meaning.
Before speaking or writing, we need to ask ourselves: will our words enhance or hurt, build up or tear down? I recall too many times in my own life when I wish I would have considered the consequences of my words before I used them.
Actions may speak louder than words. But words reveal our hearts’ desire. How we use words, the tone in which we say or write them guides our actions for better or worse.
In this day and age of on-demand communication, mostly from our mobile devices, words are more potent than ever. Whether spoken or printed, words convey meaning. That’s the point of communicating.
Words have the power to build up or tear down. Free will bestows on us the choice to affirm or deflate others.
Our world seems to be spinning out of control. Our words can either slow or accelerate that spiral.
Consequently, before we speak or write, we need to be mindful of the power and importance of our words. Will they result in caring or harming?
My siblings and I knew the consequences of using foul language or lashing out towards others. There are no tasty soaps.
My public school teachers, elementary through high school, were just as strict about our English language, only in an instructional mode, of course. I am very thankful for their insistence on learning to diagram sentences properly and knowing the parts of speech.
I revered my 11th grade English teacher despite her highfalutin language. She used words I had never heard before, and I am so glad that she did. She whetted my appetite for writing.
Learning and using new words stirs our curiosity and expands our horizons. We shouldn’t be shy, ashamed, or hurt that we don’t know or use a particular word correctly.
Applying words to describe our everyday life is the way we commune. It connects us one with another.
A necessary means to expanding our vocabularies is through reading, and what we read influences what we think. What we believe often tumbles out in the terminologies we use.
Shouldn’t our communication with and toward one another be used judiciously? As author Anne Lamott suggests, one word is better than two.
Words can sting, heal, incite hate, and spread love and understanding.
Words come from humans. Humans have choices. Let the words we use be for better and not for worse. Let us be kind to one another in speaking the truth.
Likewise, let us be patient with one another if we disagree. The words we use should always reflect our virtue and simultaneously respect the other’s dignity. Otherwise, we might find ourselves in a war of words rather than at a peaceful center point.
I recognize times in my past when I have not lived up to my established expectations. I have used the wrong words at the wrong time with unpleasant results.
Consequently, I have also learned that sometimes, especially in times of deep despair, the best words are no words at all. Simply being present speaks louder and more comforting than any articulated vocabulary.
So, when it comes to words, let humility, curiosity, and grace be our guideposts.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2021
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