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The Power of Words

In many fantasy novels, words contain power. A word can create a spell or open a door or constrain a demon. The right words do good things. The wrong words do bad things.

Also true in writing. The difference between a “good” and “bad” book is often the effective use of words.  Sometimes it’s a story issue, as in “total lack thereof,” but usually it comes down to how words got used and whether more people than not like the effect.

Words hold power in the Bible, too. The Apostle John goes out of his way to describe Jesus as The Word, the very Word by which all things were created (John 1:1). The Word who existed with God before anything else did. That’s a lot of power in a word.

TT: Please do not think for a moment I consider the Bible to be fantasy. I figure fantasy places so much emphasis on word power because of the truth of the Bible, not the other way ’round. Since God pre-dates us, we borrow His truth for our application rather than making up truth and inserting God. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

The book of Proverbs warns foolish men are known by the foolish words they speak. It warns against speaking in the heat of anger, or sharing secrets, or gossiping, or just good ol’ fashioned speaking before you think. Proverbs has a lot to say.

The book of James compares the tongue to a raging fire, and the rudder of a ship. Words can ignite situations or guide your future (foot in mouth syndrome, anyone?). Who hasn’t experienced the joys of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person?

I’ve been thinking about words a lot lately. Occupational hazard for a writer. The good ones and the bad ones. The encouraging ones and the mean ones. Useful words and not-so-useful words.

When I started my writing journey back in 2009, I was ready with the harsh and critical words, and they came from a harsh and critical spirit. They hurt people, however unintentionally. I try very hard not to be mean on purpose (unless it’s to the nieces. Then it’s just funny). My excuse was “being honest,” but that’s a cop-out. It’s possible to be honest without being mean. Not always easy, but possible.

In the year since, the reality of the power of words has come home in ways I never expected. Praise buoys up, criticism weighs down. A thoughtless word can ruin a day or make a day. It all depends on the word.

I’m blessed to know many people with encouraging words ready on their tongues. I’d like to thank all of them for the ones they’ve shared with me over the past year. I am grateful for each and every one of you, and hold you up to God in my prayers.

I pride myself on being a good student. I intend to study this “encouraging word” concept and apply it in the next year. If I do nothing else, the time will still be well spent.

Happy New Year, everybody. Live long and prosper.

About Robynn Tolbert

Born in Kansas and born again at age six, Robynn has published two novels and started her third. Robynn, aka Ranunculus Turtle, lives in Kansas with a clowder of cats, a patient dog and a garden.

4 comments on “The Power of Words

  1. I was wondering where your post was for this week. Just yesterday I was on the phone with a friend and we pondered when the wonderful Princess Turtle would scribble her words for the week. 😛 Great post and very true. I am guilty of all the bad ways to use words. It is something I try to work on each day. Best way to apply kindness is to remember how other peoples’ words have hurt me and know I do not wish to do the same.

  2. You have so many phone friends, I’m at a loss to guess who it might have been. You’re one of those I’m thankful for, Crazyhair Vaulter.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. There are many ways to say things and as someone who is continually asked ” Do you NOT have a filter?”, I know this better than most. Tact was extremely hard for me to learn as I usually say exactly what I am thinking, WHEN I am thinking it. Not wise.

    Realizing people have feelings and are vulnerable is something we all need to understand and be protective of them at all times. Anyone who knows me well , or not well, will be going “What” when it relates to me. But growing older and wiser, I hope, I do try to watch what comes out of my mouth, most of the time. As a follower of Christ, my words are representative of His love for all and sometimes I am a terrible witness for Him. Turtle you are so much wiser than Mama Turtle…God has truly blessed me with a daughter named Princess Turtle…you truly are of royal blood …HE has got to be proud of you as I am.

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