As a young girl in the 1960s I had a diary – with a LOCK. I was a quiet child and found it difficult to express myself verbally but found writing to be cathartic. Journaling my daily thoughts in a private diary was my way of working though my problems.
But writing in the diary also held an element of fear. I worried one of my siblings might steal it, run off in a corner, break open the lock, and peer into my deepest, darkest secrets. They would then have a lifetime of ammunition to use against me.
Fast forward to 2012. Instead of a diary, young people and adults alike blast every thought, word, and action across the Internet. We utilize the promotional opportunities of You Tube, social media, email, blogs, texts, and cell phones. We now have unlimited opportunity to speak our minds. Our voice can be heard at any time from anywhere. We can share, unload, boast, and assault anyone and anything that offends us.
Saint Theodora wrote about the need to select one’s words carefully rather than backtracking with apologies. She advised, “Never speak when you are excited but wait for the impulse of nature to pass away and that of grace to succeed it” (Letters and Journals, 106). She also said, “Keep back the words that would wound your loving Jesus” (Letters and Journals, 305).
Words are powerful. They can promote calm or chaos, love or anger, confidence or humiliation. The choice is yours as to how you use the power of your words.
In Scripture we read how the tongue, the symbol of our words, can be equated to fire and its potential to cause a path of destruction. Scripture says, “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).
Today’s avenues of communication need to be tread carefully to avoid heartache for both us and our audience. Hiding behind our phone or computer and telling everyone everything is not only unnecessary it is dangerous. It has the potential of diluting important issues, embarrassing ourselves, inflicting pain, and inciting retaliation.
Before declaring your thoughts, please stop and think for a moment. You need only ask yourself one question: “Am I comfortable with God reading or hearing what I have to say?”
©Mary K. Doyle