This afternoon I had the unfortunate task of disciplining my seven year old grandson over a name calling incident.
In the process of explaining the importance of selecting the right words, it occurred to me that as adults we often overlook the most gratifying use of language. Words like gracious, noble, honorable, trustworthy seem seldom used these days in our everyday conversations but what great character building words they are.
Do we use our words to tell our friends they inspire us using adjectives like these? Definitive words help us to rise, don't they? All too often those kinds of words fall out of use in our daily vocabulary. More often our sentences are rushed, and simpleskimming over the surface with out making so much as a ripple in the listener's soul. Sometimes they are brutal and caustic.
God gave us the gift of language to express something extraordinary. Well chosen words launched intentionally from one heart to another establish bonds, create character, soothe, heal, edify, build, and bring comfort. The greatest power of any individual is contained in the words they choose.
I quickly found that the concept of selective expression is one not easily grasped at the age of seven.
I attempted to clarify for my grandson that calling his sister a monkey face wasn't nearly as effective as gently exposing how he feels about her using carefully selected words To test my theory, he turned to his eight year old sister and calmly said "I don't like you at all and if Grandma wasn't here I'd hit your monkey face." Upon hearing his statement, his sister stuck out her tongue and replied, "You're ugly!" Exasperated, I resorted to the method my grandmother used to teach us the power of well chosen wordsa bar of soap to the lips is a memorable teacher.
We still have some work to do to eliminate the biting verbiage of sibling rivalry. As for myselfI'm glad to have had this moment of reflection today. What I tried to teach a seven year old, is a lesson I need to value more.
Today, I want to choose my words purposefully. I want to pull them from a deeper place in my heart and send them on a mission. I want them to land with sudden impact and transform into something more beautiful. I want to create portraits for my friends with syllables they will remember. Language is to be lavishly exploited when it is harnessed to well chosen words and left to fall silent until they are intentionally mined, polished and set free as the gift God intended them to be.
'May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer.' (Ps. 19: 14 NIV)
Birdie Courtright is a freelance writer and real estate professional who enjoys sharing her faith with others through personal glimpses of God at work in her own life.