Friday, May 4, 2012

The Power of Words

Two things recently have started me thinking about the power of words. One was the recent post by Jackie about 'it only needs to be a small flame.' When I thought about that, one of the examples that struck me was the example of Aussie poet Andrew Lansdown. He is a quite openly a Christian who writes poetry that is accepted by literary magazines and Christian journals. His poetry is recognised and acclaimed by Christians and those in literary circles. I admit he is on my mind at present, as I have recently finished reviewing his poetry collection Allsorts that has been entered in the Caleb Poetry Prize which I am privileged ot be judging again this year. His faith is evident in his poems which are always a tribute to the Mighty Creator. He is a great example of a writer whose words are a beacon in our world. If you love poetry and haven't read any of his poems, I encourage you do do so.

The second was a text message I received from a friend who was in the middle of preparing a talk for Mother's Day. The text asked,  'What is the best advice you received from your mother or best advice you have given as a mum.' I answered the first part of the question with two bits I remembered from my mum. One was humorous. The other practical. My mother was a person who drew people to her as naturally as breathing. The practical one was, 'make lots of friends. Don't just make one best friend.' 

I don't remember the exact context of her saying this, but suspect it could have been when my best friend moved to Queensland in my first year in high school and I was devastated. But it may well have been even much earlier than that. Because of moving house a bit, I had been to three different schools before high school and so had to make new friends quite a bit.

Not wanting to presume what advice my children had deemed valuable, if anything, I decided to text and ask. My daughter thought for a bit before her texted answer came back. 'One that comes to mind is about marriage and what to look for in a marriage partner and you said " that as no-one is perfect and everyone has faults, choose someone whose faults you can live with because you can't change them to be the person you want them to be. You marry them as they are. The other thing she remembered me saying was, 'marriage requires work. It won't just happen.'

I wondered then how different it would be if I asked my son and so off went another text message. After a while his answer came back saying, 'I can't remember any specific advice but your encouragement to follow the Lord in both words and example would be the most significant.' Needless to say, I felt good after those replies and felt somewhere along the marriage and parenting way, my husband and I must have managed to get a few things right.

So, I guess it highlighted for me the importance of words and how sometimes they can have an impact even when we may not be aware of it. That's true whether it is in marriage and parenting or in writing. Sometimes in writing, our characters can get away with giving advbice and saying what the author may not be able to say openly. That way it doesn't come across as preachy but as an intrinsic part of that character and the way they live their life and make choices. At least that's why I hop to do in my fiction so that those who are outside the church will read it and hoepfully it will make them think. Who knows whether sometime down the track those words will take root and lead them to the Saviour, especially if we seek to write what God wants and cover our writing with prayer.

15 comments:

  1. I find it interesting that, as the writer, I give voice to ALL of the characters in my stories—including those with whom I disagree! This means I get to have debates with myself, pointing out both sides to issues. And the bad guys have to be credible. This really helps me to clarify my thinking.

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    1. Well yes, we do need to presnt both sides at time and it does help clarify our own thinking. Thanks Peter.

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    2. I know what you mean. I've done this in my writing.

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  2. 'Write what God wants and cover it in prayer.' Great encouragement for all of us. Thank you.

    I often hear my mother's voice from back in the day when my kids were toddlers, telling me to 'soak that, or the stain will set.' I don't remember my father's words as clearly, except for on my wedding day when he encouraged my new husband and I to 'not conform to the pattern of this world.'

    That, and the words of a godly Bible teacher who stood at the microphone every Tuesday morning, spur me on. She told the room of women, 'Prayer, is the work.'

    Pray, and then work on whatever you are called to do. :)

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    1. I wonder Dorothy if that is because as females we often have more interaction with mothers. Love that adage 'prayer is the work.' Thanks

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  3. You're so right Dale, our characters have every right to reveal where they are in either their Christian walk, or in their struggle to make sense of it all. And I also agree with Peter in making my antagonists quite as plausible as in real life. Yes, our words,uttered or written, do have power, especially if they're prayed over.

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    1. That's really the key isn't it? Prayer.Thanks Rita.Lovely to get such great responses to my first blog post here.

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  4. Great post, Dale.

    Words have such power, don't they? They can make us think, question our motives and encourage others, or do irreversible damage.

    Have you read the book, Simple Little Words: What You Say Can Change a Life? Lovely book.

    Cover your writing with prayer is very good advice. Thank you for remind everyone, including me, of this truth. :)

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  5. Yes words are very important. I have planted that into my soul for many years as I realise how helpful or how harmful our words can be. We all hope to give wisdom through our words to our children. Sometimes we don't even realise the effect of those words until, as you did, we ask our children.My mother told us, "I might not see what you do, but God does." Boy! that put the fear into me.
    John 1:1 says "Jesus was the WORD and the WORD became flesh."
    This hit home to me, as God also SPOKE the world into being. We are given one mouth to talk and two ears to listen. So we are to listen more and speak less. As you say,with our writing we can sometimes speak through our character, things we want to impart yet are easier to use in the story. Blessings to you. CML

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  6. With my writing I want to 'make a difference'. I hope that something I write can help someone, especially in their Christian walk. I have to think about the words I speak and write.
    I know God can give me the words. As a devotional I wrote surprised me, the first part I remember, but the last part I don't. God put those words in place. He gave me the perfect words, I know that i didn't.
    MEL

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  7. Thanks Dale. I really liked your post. I agree with you wholeheartedly that words have great power. We writers are those who play with words. Words and the English language have always fascinated me. I think my two primary love languages are physical touch and and words of affirmation so I do 'get edified but also hurt by words. But then, I guess everyone does!

    Thanks - your post made me realise once again how intentional I need to be with positive words and what a great responsibility I have to wield the right words - to bless and heal - not hurt. I will take it with me into my day and the coming week.
    Blessings and thanks,
    Anusha

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  8. When I think about words and their power, I always remember John 1:1. A word can be so much more than letters placed together. Thank you for the great angle Dale.

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  9. Like your son, I don't remember my mother's specific words so much as her example of godliness in the way she treated the poor and the mentally challenged in her volunteering at a downtown mission and at a home for adults with special needs. I do remember her telling me that she prayed for wisdom to spend the Lord's money wisely every time she entered a shopping mall--advice I haven't always followed.

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  10. I love reading in James where he compares our words with the power of a small rudder to steer a big ship. It's important to remember when writing. Thanks Dale. :)

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  11. Wow! Thanks Lee,Crystal Mary,Melanie,Anusha, Jackie,LeAnne, and Amanda for all your encouraging words. And yes, words have the power to also hurt deeply. No wonder we need to be so careful what we do with them.

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