Do you feel that your words really matter?
That’s the question Hannah posed to us in this week’s Persuasion episode, the kick off to our fall series, Talking about Talk. Let’s Talk is the series opener, in which we discussed the proliferation of words in today’s world. Our mobile devices keep us synced up and interconnected with our family members who are often just a room away, dear friends near and far, and even complete strangers. We know details about every sort of personal triumph and struggle, as well as opinions from every end of the spectrum. And I think Solomon would agree that there is also no end to the making of many statements via social media.
In sum, we are inundated with words these days, and many of us wonder if adding more to the pile is wise or needful or helpful.
So when Hannah posed the question of the day—Do you feel that your words really matter?—I was forced to assess it for myself. All week I’ve been considering the value and purpose of my words, the giving of my ideas. Too often, I consider my contribution to be less than essential… more like a nice garnish rather than a main entrée. I want to present flashy answers and high-minded arguments. But that’s a monologue, not a conversation.
Conversation is the exchange of ideas so that all parties learn together. Even if you are persuading another person to join your stance on a particular topic, the conversation is a school for all involved. Sharing ideas, experiences, facts, opinions, and feelings are lessons we cannot afford to skip. If conversations school us in unique ways, no one can afford to sit out. We must practice sharing our opinions, asking questions, reserving judgment, extending grace.
Such an exchange is more than these transactional components though. Words are powerful. It’s a mystery how God created the universe with a word, but He did. It’s a mystery how the Word of God could become flesh, but He did. Our own words have power to build up or tear down, and once spoken, words continue to hold sway over our hearts for years or even a lifetime.
So we cannot afford to keep silent, and we cannot underestimate the power of our words. And this is why Hannah’s question is so important: If we do not recognize the value of our contribution, we will fail to steward our words. We will toss them before swine or bury them in fear. Our words will be discounted, wasted. Not only that, but we will miss out on all that could be when we use our words to impart life and champion justice and extend mercy. Our words—yours and mine—truly do matter.