Yesterday I wrote about the damage that words can cause and the care we have to take every time we open our mouths or start typing at our keyboards. I was going to say put pen to paper but does anyone even do that anymore? Pens? Pencils? Paper anyone?
Today I’m going to flip the metaphorical coin and look at the power of words to heal and restore. Words are a double edged sword. They can destroy but, used properly, they can smash through barriers of hurt, misunderstanding and disappointment. Some of the most powerful words in the world are the most simple.
I forgive you.
I love you.
Let me help you.
You don’t have to be Oscar Wilde or Charles Dickens to perfect those lines. But when spoken at the right time and in the right place they can change that little part of the world that you have an influence over. They can move mountains when spoken truthfully and earnestly. They are potent and unstoppable when delivered within the correct context.
Why don’t we use them more often then? Four simple phrases but when was the last time you spoke aloud all four within a twenty hour period? Don’t feel too bad because I’m struggling here as well. We are all too quick to spew out negativity and hate yet when it comes to positivity and love we clam up awkwardly.
All the great leaders and orators favoured simplicity and directness over confusion and evasiveness. Why use 1000 words when you can use 10? We skirt issues. We hmmmm and haaaaaa. We never seem to say what we mean. We worry about how our utterances might be misconstrued. To wear your heart on your sleeve and speak plainly is frowned upon. Rather duck and dive. Or better still, say nothing.
Silence is golden. Silence has its place but how many times have we wasted opportunities to say what has festered in our hearts for years. I know for I’ve been there. My father died young, aged 64, from prostate cancer. He was a strong and healthy man. Yet in just over a year he was gone. There were so many things I wanted to say to him but I placed countless walls between us.
I loved my father but I struggled to tell him that. I struggled to forgive him for mistakes in his life no matter how many times over he tried to make amends. Until it was too late. I couldn’t walk a mile in his shoes. When he was gone I stumbled and staggered along without him for many thousand miles. I became blinded by the darkness. I used words to deceive and deny the person he would have wanted me to be.
Some say I am a wordsmith. But for many years after his death my words were nothing more than the proud, empty boasts of a vain hypocrite. My words, written and spoken, took me and my loved ones to the brink. Words broke me. They choked me and dragged me down, down, down. My father would have been ashamed of me.
I was an accomplished liar. I lied to everyone but most of all I lied to myself. My words were like hand grenades. They detonated and fragmented causing untold damage. I stopped believing in myself. I despised myself so much and just couldn’t stop digging. My keyboard was the spade I was digging my own grave with. Shovelful and shovelful of lies and broken promises showering my coffin. Burying me alive.
So many clever words. Yet the simple phrases, the ones that mattered lay dormant on my lips. Today I feel as if I have to make up for lost time. I need to write every day and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to repair the damage and right the wrongs. Be a better husband, father and person. Make my father proud of me. Make it matter. Make a difference. Make amends.
The world was created by more simple words.
Let there be….
Words created the world. Before the world there was The Word. Without words we are nothing. Let there be words. Words of faith, hope and grace. Words of love. For The Word is love and love is The Word.
Do you also struggle to say the right words?
Who can you help, forgive or apologise to today?
When did you last say ‘I love you’?