Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Power of Words

This post is going to be a bit more serious... just to warn you. It is written from a teacher's perspective, but I am also a wife and soon-to-be mother who deals with these things in many scenarios. Lately I've been thinking a lot about the way we, as teachers, have so much power in words. I often fall short in my weariness, impatience, etc. (basically, my selfishness), and it comes out on my students. This is not a call out. This is a personal issue that I believe everyone struggles with, but not many people talk about for fear of judgment.

The truth is our words have incredible weight. Whether it's in the classroom, in the home, or in the grocery store, I believe words can be just as harmful as actions. Whoever said "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never harm me" was just plain wrong.

There are things my teachers said to me as a child that impacted me, for the better and for the worse. Now, as a teacher, I find myself in situations where all that comes out is sarcasm or a feeble way of saying "I don't appreciate what you are doing"... Instead, it may sound like, "STOP! RIGHT NOW!" As the minutes and hours in the day pass by, I look back on that moment and see that student's eyes... nothing but fear or shame is reflected back into my own shameful heart. My reaction to their outburst was equally ridiculous and uncalled for. And my intention should never be to shame anyone or make them afraid of what may happen. My intention should be a gentle nudge to do the right thing and to have integrity. It is in those moments that I am fully aware of my own lack of integrity. I am brought to my knees asking my Savior to give me the right words to speak.

The tongue is a tool to be used for good, but I believe we are all too messed up to do so on our own. Without Christ, my words are harsh, unkind, or can come across that way even if I wasn't planning on it sounding that way. James tells us that the tongue has to be tamed, that it is like a fire. If we don't try to quench that fire, our words become nothing but empty, hateful, and meaningless.

I am pleading with all teachers, mothers, and wives here. Please, please, please think before you speak. Think before you use that tone of voice that implies you know more than the person you're speaking with... even if you do. Use wise judgment. Some situations call for a response, and many do not. And the ones that do require a response should be carefully formed, not reactionary. Isn't this what we all struggle with?

The only answer I have for this tongue-taming process is the Holy Spirit. Each class period, we pray before we start on our project. When I am focused on the prayer and on Jesus, I've noticed a STARK difference in my tone and words. However, the opposite happens when I am focused on myself, on what needs to get done, etc. Friends, God is in control. He does not need you to be a control freak. He wants you to surrender your life -- every part, every moment, every word -- to His will. You will be free, joyful, and grateful when you let the Lord take control.

Mrs. E

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