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Understanding the Power of Words
God Given Gift
Words make us human.
With words, we have the ability to capture and to express the entire realm of human experience; joy, grief, disgust, amazement, silliness, passion, anger.
The ability to speak, write and understand the abstract concepts words represent is one of the primary differences between human beings and other species of lower life. This ability to speak and write words is a God-like attribute. God SPOKE the world into existence, and he created man in his own image, with the capacity for language.
Other living beings were created from God's imagination, according to the good pleasure of his will. But people alone, made in his image, enjoy fluency with language, with both spoken and written communication.
It is a profound realization, and comes with the great responsibility of exercising this tremendous gift wisely and well.
Words are all around us, a seeming non-stop barrage of advertisements, news broadcasts, radio programs, text books, email, snail mail, graffiti, forms, television shows, song lyrics, conversations, speeches, cell phones, movies, sermons, novels and the like. They blend into white noise, become easy to discount. We learn to take them for granted. If there is anything we know, it's that there is no shortage of words. Their abundance, however, in no way negates their power.
Words represent ideas. Express emotions. Communicate concepts. Give instruction. And are capable of exquisite nuance. They connect mind to mind, and even allow minds long dead to impart their thoughts into our living presence, ... thoughts often better honed and of deeper breadth than those we think due to the fewer number of distractions available to writers in times past.
When I write rose, for example, you see a flower. When I write horse or lemon or fork, a particular image rises inside your mind's eye. The horse you see might not be the same horse I see, but it will be a horse, nonetheless. I have communicated a concept to you. These are conceptual communications. When I write love, or despair or ecstasy, you may or may not see a picture inside your mind, but your brain pulls together all of your necessary past associations with those words to create an awareness of the emotional state I intend when I use those particular words.
Likewise, when I tell my child, "You are amazing ... I am so proud of you!" I am using words to create something real within his heart, to plant a seed, especially if I am sincere. If I am not sincere, the child will soon learn I don't mean what I say.
If I were to ask my child in a tone of anger or exasperation, "What in the world is the matter with you?" His brain would almost certainly find something wrong (real or imagined) to answer the question, and thus planted would be a seed of an entirely different sort, one that would cause harm, harm the child may or may not, with the help of God and much therapy, ever recover from.
Words have the power to bless or to curse.
Words can encourage, I believe you can do it!, inspire, "I have a dream ..." and exalt, "To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever."
Words can defeat, I can't/you can't, degrade, you idiot, and condemn, you'll never amount to anything so don't bother trying. Did your mother ever say, "Shame on you!" when you made a mistake? Shame is a curse.
There is no value in shame, blame, attack or ridicule being applied to a human being. Condemn a circumstance, a situation, but never a person.
Always speak the truth, however uncomfortable. When you use words to speak an untruth, you become a thief; you have stolen the truth from the person to whom you are speaking.
Who can really know the power of an encouraging word? Who can know how many people have clung and hung onto just a few words of faith and reassurance until they climbed out of an unhappy circumstance and ended up somewhere else?
And similarly, who knows the power of a hurtful word? How many people committed suicide with their own or someone else's painful condemnation ringing in their ears?
How you talk to yourself matters as much as how you talk to others.
Words are Delicious ... and Dangerous
Words are food for the mind and spirit. Depending upon the words you take in, they will nourish or impoverish.
Words are delicious and delectable. While food is tasted with the tongue, on its way in, words are tasted as they roll off the tongue. Every author, and every serious reader, instinctively understands the magic of a perfectly coined phrase, the exact metaphor, and encapsulation with words of something real done so impeccably that the reader has no choice but to be there.
Confucius said, "Words are the voice of the heart."
Words are also, (audible or not) the precursor to action.
It is because of the deliciousness of words, the preciseness of words, the ability of words to embody emotion, thought and idea, that dictionaries exist, that thesauruses exist, that English Grammar classes, Literature classes and Creative Writing classes exist. One can paint a portrait with words. Roll over a building. Create from the magical blankness of a computer screen or piece of paper a world that previously did not exist.
Just like God ... words enable us to create into being.
Be thoughtful how you form your words. Use care. People are fragile.
Never forget that words can become weapons that wound and leave scars that will never heal. Use them with great care.
Speak truth, and truth only.