Some people make cutting remarks,
but the words of the wise bring healing.
The television screams words these days. Election rhetoric, racial tension, candidates and pundits, unceasing phone calls, signs and posters dotting the roadways, mailboxes stuffed with flyers, emails filled with posts and comments. Will it ever end?
It’s hard to ignore words when directed specifically to you, especially the harsh ones. Mark still remembers the words of the nun who questioned him in the eighth grade as to why he was leaving every day at study hall. He was taking a bus to the high school to practice his trumpet with the band. She said, “You will never amount to anything.” He still lives under the cloud of those words even after having a successful career as a musician.
But words also bring life and encouragement. My camp counselor led me to the Lord at age nine. At the end of the week, she took me aside and said, “Gerry, one day you will do great things.” My parents never learned how to express their love verbally, and I am a verbal person. But those words from my counselor still ring true in my heart and mind. It gives me the courage to try something new and stand up for what I believe in.
My relationship with my father was always difficult. He was strict, demanding, a Navy officer that expected obedience and cooperation. I did a better job of it than my brother but that didn’t mean I escaped his withering stares or reproachful words. We experienced a complete break in relationship at one point so that it took several years to make our way back to each other. But on his death bed, he looked up at me and whispered, “You are so precious to me.” My heart nearly burst. Why had he waited so long?
I have found during this quarantine, that words get me through the day. I make phone calls to friends, send emails or cards, post on social media, send texts, FaceTime, zoom, and read. Lots of words. I pray that in this day of screens, we will come to appreciate the contact that comes with one-to-one connection and purposefully choose to use our words well. When something as “normal” as contact and community is taken, the return to hugs and gatherings will be so welcome.
When you choose words, be mindful as to whether they will:
heal or hurt
forgive or condemn
encourage or discourage
cheer up or bring down
love or hate
complement or disparage
support or oppose
accept or reject
friendly or mean
I pray that when November 4th rolls around, we will remember to speak words of acceptance and kindness. We are all brothers and sisters regardless of party, race, religion, gender, or age. Our grandchildren are watching. Let’s be good examples.