There is power in the words we choose to use.
How we use them, for good or for ill, is up to us.
Words can move us to tears of joy or tears of sadness.
Words can motivate us or tear us down.
Words can have a long lasting after effect.
The Delayed Effects of Storms and Crashing Waves
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18 ESV
In March, we had a late Spring storm here along the Oregon Coast that produced a spectacular set of swells and crashing waves. What is interesting to me is that depending on the timing of the storm and the schedule of the tide, the big crashing waves may not even hit the coastline until 10-12 hours after the storm passes. It can take that long for the after effect of the storm, the big waves, to make its way inland.
The words we use can have that same delayed effect. While harsh words spoken in anger, fear, or frustration can have an immediate impact, it’s the delayed effects that can be just as (possibly even more) destructive. The hearer of those words will think about them, wonder about them, possibly even relive them for days, weeks, or months later.
Thankfully the opposite is also true. Words spoken in love and support can mean a lot in that moment in time, and your loving support and attention can also buoy and sustain a person long after these gifts of encouragement are spoken.
There is beauty created out of a big storm, but there is destruction also.
Witnessing these magnificent displays of ocean power can be awe inspiring. It leaves you humbled and feeling a bit small knowing there is nothing you can do but get out of the way.
Words As Self-Care
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 ESV
The words we use make a difference, not only in what words we give to others but what we give ourselves as well.
There are things we say to ourselves that we would never say to another person. What we tell ourselves, and how we describe ourselves can be a form of self-care, but not if we use destructive words that make us feel small and stupid.
Again, thankfully, we can also have the opposite effect by being gentle, giving ourselves grace, and speaking truth in love.
In watching a display like this of huge, beautiful pounding waves there are moments of stillness, of wonder, of being in the moment waiting for the next big wave to crash and hit. You can’t help but wonder if they are trying to show off. 🙂
Be Aware of the Words You Use
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 ESV
Have you ever been to the beach with a sign “Beware of Waves”, or “Beware of Sneaker Waves”? Have you heard the saying, “Never turn your back on the sea”?
I think that also applies to the words we use with ourselves, our children, spouses, blog readers, and loved ones. We have the power to effect a person, that goes beyond the here and now, an effect that can move through time, even without us being there.
You can see the effects of these beautiful water displays along the coastline. The pounding erodes the cliff walls, taking what is there and pulling it down and creating more sand. Entire beaches can shift their landscape after a storm as piles of sand get shoved around.
There is beauty being created through that erosion and tearing down. The smoothness of the rock face, the smooth pebbles we find on the beach, the lines and patterns that show up only after months and years of wave upon wave coming closer to the shoreline only to retreat and return later.
Repetition of words and action can help mold a person into something beautiful or into something hurt and broken.
It is easy to forget the effect of a word spoken offhand, without thinking, just like it is easy to forget that we need to respect the sea and never forget it’s power.
“With great power comes great responsibility”, this wise advice for Superman is also wise advice for us!
Let’s be aware of the words we choose, the words we give. Let’s be aware of the power of our words and the long-lasting effects they can have.
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her buddy Bailey. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books including her newest, “Choosing Gratitude: A Daily Quiet Time Journal”.