Saturday, May 12, 2012

Words Matter

Wordle: words matter

I live in a house with other people. That means that I live in a house where sometimes we all laugh and have a great time, and sometimes we get our feelings hurt, or hurt others. It's just an unfortunate fact of life. Sometimes we're grumpy, or tired, or not feeling well, or feeling like we have no control, and we take it out on the people closest to us. I do it. You do it. It stinks, but it happens.

I would walk 25 miles out of my way across hot tar to avoid a conflict. This is not the most positive aspect of my personality. Many times conflict is a necessary first step toward resolution, and it is usually important to talk things out. But one thing I've come to know is that the words you use matter. In conflict, words can make a person think, or words can make a person think I don't love them. In humor, words can make a person laugh, or words can make a person think I am laughing at them.

It's not just words. Tone matters as well. I could say something in a gruff tone, and you could say the exact same thing with kindness or at least no gruffness, and the resulting understanding from the person to whom we are speaking would be completely different. Tone makes me helpful and understanding, and tone makes me a bully. And it's so difficult to keep this in mind, but it matters that we do because we should care how we affect the people we love. And didn't someone once say "you can get more flies with honey?"

Plus, God cares what we say and how we say it. There are numerous passages in the Bible that talk about reckless words and poison tongues. But the most lovely passage that hit home for me is Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight. O Lord, my strength and my redeemer." God listens to what I say and God listens to how I say it. But not only God. The people to whom I'm speaking, the people I love most in the world, listen to what I say and how I say it. And what I say and how I say it makes all the difference in what they hear and how it makes them feel.

So I'll  won't try to avoid conflict, but I will try to avoid using words that pierce. And I will try to speak in a manner that can heal or comfort rather than break down. As much as I hate flies, I'll try the honey.

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