Saturday, May 19, 2012

Words Matter!

A large part of my life involves words! I teach Latin, I write, I communicate. It's that communication piece of words that makes life interesting! My husband and I think very differently. Hopefully that doesn't imply better or worse, just different. Invariably when he gives me directions, he understands exactly what he means but his words don't convey that same meaning to me.
Perhaps the GPS is singularly responsible for reducing stress in marriage as directions from a spouse become no longer necessary. :o)

Last night I went to an end of school picnic. I didn't know where it was and the invitation had no address except for a vague location. There was nothing specific enough to put into my GPS. A colleague called about something else and I asked if he knew how to get there. These are his instructions pretty much word for word:
"Go to the end of Boyce Road, Turn right. Go just a little way and turn left which will take you to the end of that road and a stop sign but just continue on."
Fortunately I knew where he was talking about so I said, "O, you mean ...."
"Yes, that's right. You'll go over the hill and drop down on 50. Then 50 is 4-lane about 2 miles and turns into 2-lane. Just keep going out in the country until you come to a building that looks just like the Taj Mahal on your left. The park is right beside it on the other side of the parkiing lot."
Well, guess what? There is no Taj Mahal in or near Pittsburgh, PA. There certainly isn't one on 2-lane Rt. 50. I drove and drove, got caught up in a bad motorcycle wreck and finally turned around. As I passed a little park it seemed like the crowd of people in and around the big pavilion just might be my group from school. BUT there was NO Taj Mahal in sight!!!
Now, my friend had no malicious or even joking intent. He just used to live near there and apparently all the locals call the building next to the park "the taj mahal." HOW would I know that?!
Last night's word fiasco was "small beans" but words do matter and words spoken glibly or unkindly matter even more!
At this same event I ran into a person I have only seen casually a few times since the days when we were very close friends. I walked with her through a very difficult time in her life. In the end she walked away from our friendship. She was there with her new husband and only introduced him because I happened to be standing where it would have been embarassing to her not to. That's okay! As Aslan says to Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, "What's done is done?"
In the end, words matter and they matter a lot! That's why Paul cautions all of us: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6, NIV
Easy to write/type, harder to do! Sometimes it's easy to wonder - When will I not have to be the one biting my tongue? Answer: probably never! Jesus set the bar high. He above all others had earned the right to set the record straight. The Gospels record what the Prophet Isaiah predicts that Jesus remained silent in the face of His accusers! Not only do words matter but sometimes the lack of words matters too - quite a lot!
Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3 NIV

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