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The power of words

Published March 23. 2013 09:02AM

"Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another." Napoleon Hill

Words are part of our everyday life. Whether written or spoken, words carry great power.

When my youngest child was a baby, her father and I engaged in fierce competition while trying to teach her to speak her first words. We decided that whoever's name she spoke first would indicate whom she loved the most.

I wonder how foolish we appeared to her when she found herself helplessly stuck in a high chair listening to us repeatedly saying "ma ma ma ma ma" or "da da da da da."

She showed us. Her first word was Godzilla and I have the video to prove it.

As our children grow, we fill them with the written and spoken word. We teach them to read and write. We sing songs to and with them. We give them instruction and direction and when necessary, correction.

To a child, simply hearing the word "no" can result in a total meltdown. I don't think we, as adults, are very fond of that word either. I know I'm not.

I remember all of the times my children came to me with a picture that they drew themselves and how they stood there anxiously awaiting for words of acknowledgment and praise to flow forth from my mouth and the smiles on their faces after hearing it. I know I still like to be informed of a job well done every now and again.

Walk into any library and you will find a plethora of opportunities to experience words; words that provide knowledge and words that take you on a journey to a faraway place or deep within your own soul.

Some people are much better at using words than others.

Songwriters have the unique ability of weaving words and music together in such a way that it prompts us to sing along in our car, dance like a fool in the office, or cry for hours on our pillows.

A gifted lawyer can set a guilty man free and the words of a well-spoken leader can deceive an entire nation.

The right words can get you a date with a pretty girl. The wrong words can earn you a slap in the face or soap in your mouth.

Words of encouragement can lift someone out of despair or inspire them to do great things.

Simple words like "You can do it," "It's going to be ok," and "I love you," are often all a person needs to hear to help them get through the day or to take on the challenges of the world.

Bullies, whether in the school yard, or in cyberspace, know how to use words to crush the spirit of another human being. So too can the harsh and critical words of a parent to her child.

With the advances in education and technology as well as the invention of the Internet and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, communication with others through written and spoken word has never been easier and that is a great thing.

However, as stated in the middle of Luke 12:48 "For to whomever much is given, of him shall be much required."

I believe we have a responsibility to choose and use our words wisely; to speak the truth and to be aware and cautious of how what we say will impact others, and then to actually care enough to act accordingly.

Freedom of speech should not be a license to threaten, manipulate, delude or wound another person with our choice of words. A careless, hurtful or deceitful comment made today can leave scars and devastation that will last a lifetime.

Think about that the next time you open your mouth or tap on a keyboard. Use your words as an instrument to lift up rather than to tear down.

Make the world a better place, one powerful word at a time.

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