Just a Few Words

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“Cutting your words in half often makes them twice as good.”

I have pondered these words for the past week after hearing them from a fellow blogger.

What an appropriate week for analyzing this thought. Without access to the world of words, words, and more words, I have been forced to pay closer attention to my own words. I have spent the past week in this setting:

Camping.

With a 1 year old and a 3 year old. I am thankful for our camping friends who are amazing and have amazing kids to help, and for my mother-in-law who kept the youngest at her house half of the week.

I enjoyed the break, but I must say I have missed connecting with you!

Back to the opening quote. While the speaker meant it in terms of written words, I believe it is just as applicable to spoken words. It’s easy to cut out unnecessary details after I spill them all over a word document; it’s an entirely different chore to cut back on spoken words before I let them spill out of my mouth.

I can’t hit delete after I say something.

“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” Proverbs 10:19, a direct, almost “in your face” verse from the New Living Translation of the Bible.

Often, my words are what I call fluff, which is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “soft,” “small,” “trivial,” or “superficial”. I don’t want my words to be any of these. I want them to serve a purpose. I want to go deeper than “weather talk”. Unfruitful talk seems harmless, but it uses mental energy and time that could be filled with something of substance. Fluffy talk could also lead to sinful talk.

Sometimes, my words are “facts” about other friends, and of course they don’t count as gossip. On second thought, I know good and well that the news I’m repeating is not my business to tell and likely not bettering anyone. You have lived long enough to see the effects of gossip, so I’ll skip on to the next point.

Sometimes, I know that what I’m about to say is only going to make so-and-so think a certain way about so-and-so. Am I saying it to make myself look better? Am I saying it because I like being the one who has news or because I like to create drama? (This thought reminds me of a previous post.)

Hmm. Maybe I should just be silent. I like to think most of my words are producing good, but now I’m not so sure.

My husband reminded me just yesterday that “silent” and “listen” contain the same letters. He must tell this to his students. Surely he didn’t think needed to hear it. :)

Have you ever met one of those really wise people who is described as being a “man/woman of few words”? This person is respected, trusted and loved. She doesn’t spread useless information. She doesn’t interrupt and blurt out her thoughts. She thinks. She listens. And thinks some more.

I want to be that person. I have a long way to go. I need to learn how to think before I speak.

“The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” Proverbs 15:28

Have you ever thought about how powerful you are? Do you realize the difference that your words can make?

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

With just a few words, I can:
manipulate
curse
complain
discourage
slander
lie
destroy

all of which are counterproductive and a complete waste of precious time

Or, I can:
encourage
love
praise someone
heal
restore

I wish I could be more consistent with the second list.

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.” James 3:9-10

James reminds us how it is impossible for a human to tame their tongue. He compares the human to a ship, and the tongue to its rudder which can steer the ship in any direction despite how small it is. He compares it to the small spark that starts a forest fire. Such a powerful thing can be used for good or bad, so we should choose our words wisely.

I am often tempted to justify my hurtful words. Do you realize what he has done to me? This is all her fault. He is crazy. She caused this mess.

If you remember one thing from this text, let it be this: Reacting negatively to hurt, no matter how horrible the hurt is, will only cause more hurt. If we respond in love (or silence if we can’t say anything nice), we can be at peace knowing that we didn’t add to the hurt and the drama.

I watched Mason dig through mounds of sand this week to find cool rocks and “she-shells”. It provided the perfect imagery for my thoughts. I don’t want people to have to sift through my words to find the good stuff: the encouragement, the positivity, the messages about truth and life. The more fruitless words I say, the less people are likely to listen to anything I say. If 80% of my words are hurtful or lacking in significance, how effective can the other 20% possibly be?

Are your words (spoken, written or typed) serving a purpose?

Are you a person who builds people up or tears them down?

 

Recommended resources:
Simple Little Words by Michelle Cox and John Periodin
The Power of a Postive Mom by Karol Ladd
Words by Hawk Nelson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5V8_k70KnI

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6 Comments

  1. What perfect words written here…if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything. I also love Proverbs 10:19…

  2. Very well said Kristin!! We all say things that hurt other people a lot!! Because other people say and do things that hurt us, we reply with hurtful and mean words!! Hopefully what you have said in this blog will make us ALL stop and think and be a little wiser!!

  3. My mother & grandmother always said… If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything! I like what you’ve written…..so many times we use our wrong to hurt stead of help! Thank you for another wonderful blog! HugsM

  4. No truer words ever spoken Kristin. I find it no coincidence that this this is the topic of your blog this week. After having a long conversation with someone that I have a lot of respect for this week. I am reminded that we don’t have to engage in every conversation, argument or piece of drama that is brought before us. Part of being a responsible adult is not to react with hatred every time we feel we have been wronged. It does nothing but harden your heart and steal your joy. I have spent a lot of time studying the words I say this past year, I know that the words we say have power over our life. I choose to speak life. The words from our mouth flow directly from our heart. What are your words saying about your heart?

    “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45

    1. Thanks Stephanie. You are so right that hatred will only “harden your heart and steal your joy”. It’s just not worth it. I hope that my words overflow from a joyful heart.

  5. Great post, Kristin! Thanks, for bringing this verse (from Psalms, I believe ) to mind :
    “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord my strength and my redeemer.” And from a sign I’ve seen: “Lord, please put your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth” ! I too, don’t want others to have to sift through my words to know my heart.

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