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Powerful Words – Life Or Death

Such foolish words.

I remember my friends and I arrogantly singing these words to each other in the playground when we were young – you know that obnoxious tune, right?

Make no mistake  — words can wound.

A dear friend of mine recently shared these thoughts.

I’ve had teenagers call me a “Beached Whale.”  More recently,  a person laughed when I told them I am staying under 1400 calories a day.  I’ve had others in the past say they were proud of me that I “pushed away from the table” or “Don’t worry about being kidnapped because you couldn’t be carried away.” I was turned away at a ride at Wonderland (quite rudely) because of my size. These people hurt my feelings harshly with their words of unkindness . . . 

Cruel words are like sword thrusts to the soul (Proverbs 12.18) but I believe that rudeness is the wounded person’s imitation of strength.

Hurt people hurt people.

The Bible speaks to this issue of the tongue’s wounding ways. Proverbs 18.21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Life has taught me that there are three kinds of words spoken. 

Shallow words accomplish very little. There’s nothing wrong with social chit chat or polite friendliness but the issue isn’t between heavy vs. light words — the issue becomes sincere vs. insincere words. Shallow words are not very meaningful. They are often spoken with indifference and wandering eyes. You don’t feel listened to or taken seriously. These words can fill a conversation but leave you feeling very empty and often misunderstood.

Death words discourage. These words tear a person down. Like a sharp knife in the hands of a surgeon, a knife can heal but in the hands of a careless child, they can kill. Death words wound deeply and they are spoken by people who fear exposure. These people believe that vulnerability equals death and they have created elaborate strategies to protect themselves. Death words are dysfunctional but they serve a purpose.

Life Words encourage. They soothe. They are powerful and reach deep into a person’s being. When we are emotionally healthy people, we can think beyond ourselves and value others. Spirit-led self examination helps us see if our words are self serving or driven by love. We can better understand the purpose of our words — not so much what we say but why we say it.

As soon as I read my friend’s words, I wrote her back.

I just have to say how beautiful you are, inside and out. People can be so ignorant and their words, so hurtful but stand tall, my friend. Take it one day at a time and celebrate your victories. You are an amazing woman, wife and mother – press on and ignore your critics. Hang out with those who are cheering you forward!

Encouraging words are life words.

A soothing tongue is a tree of life. Proverbs 15.4

Good words can make an anxious heart glad. Proverbs 12.25

Pleasant words are…sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16.24

A word spoken in season, how good it is!  Proverb 15.23

People who encourage are able to listen beneath what is spoken and they seek to understand. The more precise the understanding, the more encouraging the words.

I’ve learned that encouragement occurs most effectively when opportunities are seized, rather than created. In the midst of ordinary conversation, the timing and sincerity of the simplest of words can lift, inspire and breathe hope into the most pain-filled souls.

be a fountain, not a drain2

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.                  Proverbs 15.4




One Comment

  1. Christine

    Wise words, Diane! Very wise words!

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