The Power of Words

As a writer I have the opportunity to work with one of the most powerful weapons in the world…

Words.

Have you ever experienced the pain of hurtful words? Or the exhilaration when someone builds you up?

Hawk Nelson in the song “Words” reminds us that, “words can build you up…words can break you down…start a fire in our hearts or…put it out.”

I have found this to be true in my life and have seen it play out in many others’ lives too.

We hear messages all around us, some direct and some indirect. Growing up and throughout my young adult years, I had many people speak into my life: coaches, parents, friends, acquaintances, teachers, school counselors, co-workers, relatives, people on the street or from behind a counter. The list is endless. The words each person spoke and the implications of those words washed over me. Some penetrated my mind and settled in my heart. Unfortunately, many, many of the ones I received and adopted into my self-talk were unkind and hurtful. As they built up, it destroyed a healthy sense of self within me. I grew to focus on the negative and minimize my value as a person. I then made choices in life accordingly.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming anyone. I made my choices and lived with the consequences. That was until I learned that most of the words and messages I continually spoke to myself were lies. Fortunately, I found the key to fixing this dilemma. I started to jot down and analyze each concept according to the Word of God. And I prayed. “Lord, if this is a truth about me, help me to change. If it is not, please set me free from this lie.”

I know. Sounds simple, right? I’ll have to admit it wasn’t. I had a big job ahead of me and a lot of negative messages to reverse. It wasn’t until I was able to replace the negative messages with more positive ones that I began to thrive as a person. But one of the greatest gifts I received from this process was to become more aware of my own words and the messages I send to others, not only in the actual words but all the subtle layers that go with them. Each of us color our words with texture or tone and then add even more enhancement with our body language. I’ve heard some people say completely innocuous words, but their demeanor and tone implied something altogether different. Choose your words wisely. They are one of the many things you cannot get back after they have left your mouth.

So today, I ask you two questions:

1. What words do you hear in your self-talk? Are they uplifting or are they hurtful? Are those words really true of you? At any time, you can choose to change the words you speak to yourself. I would have never said to a friend the things I use to say to myself. Be kind to you.

2. What messages are you sending with the words you say to others? Perhaps you need to examine your words and tone especially if you are feeling hurt inside… “for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45c).  If someone spoke to you the way you speak to others, how might that leave you feeling? Be kind to others.

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  Psalm 141:3

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