Power of words is not a new concept to most people. Sometimes we don’t realize how powerful they can be until our words cause damage to someone else. Recently I was faced with the power of my words bringing judgment on someone years ago. It didn’t totally damage our relationship, not because of my character but because of theirs. God is good and He was able to redeem those words I spoke. There is a clean slate now and I’m completely grateful. An apology goes a long way and forgiveness even further.
Everyone can benefit from a kind word spoken. Words in their simplest form can encourage beyond our belief. We never really know how much it can lift someone’s day when we tell them something uplifting. Am I good at this? Well, I believe I’m much better than I used to be. I have seen how much a kind word has power as well as unkind words. Let me share a story about the power of unkind words.
When I was younger, I used to get picked on. I decided very early on that I would stick up for myself with my words and my fists. I would be proactive. In other words, I was a bully. There was one girl I used to pick on quite often. Why? It’s simple, because I could. I was not proud of that person I used to be. Years later when I was a teenager, I became a Christian.
I was on the city bus and I noticed a girl staring at me. I sat in the back of the bus and right before she was about to get off, she looked at me. She asked, “Do you remember me?” I replied, “No, I’m sorry I don’t.” The next thing she said went through me like a knife, “You used to pick on me and beat me up when we were in grade school.” She then got off the bus. I just wanted to crawl under a rock. I was stunned. I was speechless. When my brain started to work again, I wanted to get off the bus and chase her down and tell her how very sorry I was. I wanted to tell her I’m not the same person. I wanted her to know that I’m sorry I caused her any pain. But all I could do was pray and ask God to forgive me.
I wasn’t totally evil as a kid. Here’s a story about the flip side. One day my girlfriend, Aminie was upset and feeling blue. I asked her what was going on. She wanted to be a lawyer when she got older and that day, she felt it would never happen (she was only fourteen years old at the time and I was fifteen). I took a piece of paper and wrote something simple along these lines, “Aminie will be a great lawyer one day because she is very smart.” I signed my name. It was probably twenty years later when she came to visit me for a weekend. She took that piece of paper out of her wallet. I was stunned. I had totally forgotten about that situation. She told me in law school, when things got tough, she would take out that piece of paper and it would encourage her to continue.
We may never know the power of our words to wound or to heal. How many grown ups do you meet that still carry wounds made when they were children? How many do you meet who are better people because of the encouragement of others? Lord, forgive me for those I wounded with my words. Help me to speak words of life to others from this day forward.
© Nadine Z. 2006