Thursday, February 6, 2014

The power and potential of your words

Words are curious things—merely a series of sounds strung together.

Some words sound strange—even hilarious—words like shtick, onomatopoeia, and algorithm—but each has significance, meaning.

Other languages include weird sounds, too, like clicks and whistles.

In one language group (in Brazil, as I recall), the alphabet includes a sound people make by flinging their tongues out and touching their chins. (I can’t imagine dinnertime conversations! Yikes!)

No matter how odd, those sounds have significance, they mean something to those who speak them and those who hear them.

Have you ever considered how special it is to have the use of words?

Birds don’t have words. Dogs don’t have words. Whales don’t have words. They make a handful of sounds, but they can communicate only a few basic messages.

Humans, on the other hand, have thousands of words:

The Oxford English Dictionary includes a quarter of a million distinct words. And just think—they are ours to use! 

David Powlison estimates a person says around 20,000 words a day, give or take a few. (Speaking Truth In Love, from book description.)

We have more than spoken words: We have written words—merely shapes and scratches on a paper, or black squiggles on a computer screen.

In today’s world, there are 7,105 living languages—they’re still in use—and 696 of them have no written form. Did you know?

Just think how special it is that we have the use of written words. We mustn’t take for granted the impact, the power, the potential of those little black squiggles.

The words we chose, the way we string them together, the sounds they make—they matter, they  make a difference

Words, both spoken and written, express feelings, ideas, and concepts.

Words entertain, comfort, warn, charm, redirect, frighten, inspire, guide, inform, challenge, enlighten.

Words can roar. Words can whisper.

They create scenery, make a heart race, conjure up tastes, cause laughter—and tears, surround with fragrance, recreate textures and touches. 

Words are powerful. They can make a person swoon, melt: “I love you. Will you marry me?”

Words delight, thrill: “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” or “You won!” or “You’re hired!”

Words can destroy, cripple: “I hate you and I never want to see you again,” or “You’re a failure and you’ll never amount to anything.”

Words can discourage, humiliate and defeat, but words can also build up and heal and encourage.

Words can wound, but they can also restore and nurture.

Words matter. My words matter. Your words matter.

Words have a lasting impact.
Let’s use our words carefully.
Let’s use our words for good.

1 comment:

  1. Here's the same message explained in similar words: "The word has the power to create. When God speaks, God creates. When God says, "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3), light is. God speaks light. For God, speaking and creating are the same. It is this creative power of the word we need to reclaim. What we say is very important. When we say, "I love you," and say it from the heart, we can give another person new life, new hope, new courage. When we say, "I hate you," we can destroy another person. Let's watch our words." -‪‎-Henri Nouwen‬ “BREAD FOR THE JOURNEY”