Listen to Your Words!

(Read in :03) “Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” ~Yehuda Berg

I’m a word nerd. There, I said it again. Believe it or not, there’s actually a word for someone that loves words the way I do. The word is lexiphile, sometimes spelled lexophile, and I am one. (Are you chuckling, Julie?) In truth, though, I am much less a lover of words than I am in awe of the power of words.

I’m sure you’ve heard the quote “the pen is mightier than the sword.” The phrase is often attributed to Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his 1839 play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy. However, other authors and playwrights including Shakespeare uttered the same thoughts at least two hundred years earlier. Many before him expressed the same thoughts, but perhaps less memorably.

There were words long before pens…

You can be sure that the challenges we wrestle with today are nothing new. Human beings have had difficulty with “holding their tongue” for centuries. You’ll find an astonishing number of verses in scripture that deal with the struggle we all have with keeping our words soft and kind. Controlling our tongue is without a doubt the highest form of maturity and self-discipline.

In the Old Testament we read  “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” ~Psalm 141:3

Mankind continued to struggle. We read in the New Testament, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”~Ephesians 4:29.

Sticks and Stones

Probably the silliest ditty we chanted on the playground was, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” What a lie! Pure nonsense! As hard as we tried to act as if hurtful words couldn’t reach us, they pierced us and for some, the wounds never quite healed.

Young people, especially small children are much tougher in many ways than we can imagine yet are so vulnerable to stinging words and harsh accusations. It’s critical to keep our words gentle and our message kind. Parents, that does not mean we should never discipline or call out a child but it’s essential to criticize the behavior and not attack the spirit.

“A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever.” ~Jessamyn West

The awesome power of the spoken word

Throughout history, men have been moved by the words of a powerful speaker. It’s incredible that words alone can be inspiring enough to make a man plunge headlong into battle and risk his life but they are! And haven’t we heard words that resonated in our heart, rang in our ears and made us rally for a cause? Encouragement from a teacher, parent or friend was often exactly what gave us the strength we needed to power through a rough patch.

Brené Brown is a popular author on the subject of courage. In her book Daring Greatly I learned the word courage derives from French by way of the Latin word cor, which means heart. When we encourage someone, we are giving them a gift from our heart. That’s powerful! I’m reminded of Home on the Range, the unofficial anthem of the American West, “Where never is heard a discouraging word!” What a wonderful thought!

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” -Mother Teresa

I love the following post as did thousands of others! It’s from and it was circulating on social media about the time the school year got under way. The author used a great visual to illustrate that once words have been spoken they cannot be taken back. A powerful lesson! Please take the time to give it a look! See you again Thursday!



  • Gail

    Words say a lot about the person sayng them. But whether I am injured by those words, is 100% my problem. If the words are true, I may be injured briefly but still thankful to get a message about my behavior. And if the person has a motive in their words, I can consider that as well (positive or negative). Thank you for writing!

    • Betty Streff

      Excellent point!!

      You are absolutely right. We ultimately are the one who gives permission to be injured. I thought of these words as I was writing, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

      Tha being said, it takes maturity to develop the mental toughness that you have developed. You are exceptionally resilient which has come about for many reasons.

      Both giver and receiver of words must learn to choose. What to say and how to respond to what is said.

      Comments like yours make better writers! Thank you!

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