A few days ago we talked about the power of presence, of just being there for someone. Sometimes your presence can mean more than any words you could say. But at the same time, words can have incredible power. They can inspire, and they can destroy.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
God’s Word called creation into being. As Christians, we have a ‘ministry of words’. We use words to share stories, to form our identity, to communicate and connect with other people and pray to God. We use God’s Word when our words fail us.
It was the Word that forgave the woman caught in adultery.
It was the Word that spoke healing to the paralyzed.
It was the Word that told the woman at the tomb, “Don’t be afraid.”
Our culture tends to be distrustful of words, saying that “actions speak louder than words” or that “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”. We communicate through texts and tweets, blogs, billboards, politicians making empty promises… words are sometimes seen as cheap and there is the sense that they don’t mean a lot. Empty words may lose some influence, but words can still be powerful.
I recently watched the film Camp X-Ray about an American soldier (PFC Cole, also known as “Blondie”) and a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay (Ali) who develop a friendship even though forming a connection is discouraged by both sides. The Americans believed that these were bad men and treated them as less than human, and the prisoners struggled to grasp any sense of control that they could, which included disrespecting the guards. Ali had accepted the fact that the Americans saw him as a ‘bad guy’ and he wasn’t worth anything to them. As Cole and Ali’s friendship grows, Ali asks Cole if she thinks he is a good guy or a bad guy and it makes her question what her purpose there really is. She saw good in him, yet he was treated like an animal in a zoo.
Ali is a Harry Potter fan (they get to select books to read from a library cart) and has been waiting to read the final book in the series for a long time – he starts to think that the Americans might be playing mind games with him and withholding it for fun so that he’ll never know how the story turns out. When Cole leaves Guantanamo at the end of her year there, she finds the final Harry Potter book and puts it on the cart for Ali. After Cole is gone, Ali notices the book on the cart and when he flips it open, there is a message written inside:
Words can have immense power.
Game Plan: Choose your words wisely. It’s not true that words can never hurt you – they can be the most powerful weapon there is. At the same time, the right words can show someone that that they are loved. That they have worth. That they belong.
Quote source: Robin Sharma