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Joy in the Journey

March 6, 2013

by Linda Beerman
I learned a lesson on words yesterday. Myself and others were waiting to be helped while what seemed to be a fight with words ensued behind the check-out counter. It was embarrassing for the workers involved, with listening to the person yelling quite loudly at them in front of all of us. Those of us waiting didn't quite know what to do or where to go to escape the uncomfortable atmosphere. I felt sorry for the workers, and couldn't help but wish the reprimands, if needed, could have been presented in a quieter, more dignified way. And for sure in a place not so conspicuous to the customers. After what seemed a long time, the person obviously in charge just disappeared. When the individual reappeared a few minutes later, all seemed like nothing had happened. But I doubt those were the feelings of those taking the brunt of the stormy words.

As I have been reflecting on those moments from yesterday, I have tried to think how my words affect others, either negatively or positively. Do they leave a stream of blessing and healing, or do they frustrate or humiliate the listener? There is great power in our words, and I know we need to weigh them carefully. I also know I have not always done that! Being a "talker", it is even more important for people like me to think before we speak!

Contemplating this topic, I ended up reviewing what the Good Book has to say about our speech, looking at verses three through ten in the book of James, chapter three. This section of the Bible is entitled "Taming the Tongue". Comparisons are made in this chapter of bits in the mouths of horses and rudders in large ships, which can turn the horse or the ship by someone's command. Likewise, our tongue is a small part of our body, but can make great boasts and can corrupt the whole person. It even says that our faculty or power of speech, the tongue, is restless and full of deadly poison. With this movable organ in the floor of our mouth, we can both curse and praise. Out of the same mouth! The Word of God then commands, "This should not be!" What will be our choice?

Further thinking brought this to mind: Our attitudes, along with our words, affect how our words will be received. Our tone of voice and even the look in our eyes can convey unspoken thoughts.

There is also a right moment to speak. Not when we are so exhausted, angry, or confused with someone or about a situation. It might be a better choice to listen at that point, until we can plan out our words so that they will be an encouragement or will bring out a positive force. We need to be heard sometimes, no doubt about it. But hopefully we can speak with dignity and respect. That certainly can be our goal!

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