2021 is already teaching us lessons

BY SHARON VAN ARNEMAN

The year is still quite new, but 2021 has already taught me so much. Among the year’s many lessons learned so far is that our words matter. How cool it is to be able to use words to express ourselves and engage others in conversation; but it’s a privilege that comes with responsibility! More times than I care to admit, I’ve been guilty of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, only to regret having opened my mouth in the first place – and you probably feel the same.

The thing is that whether you’re a political tycoon or the mayor of a small town; a businessperson of exceptional wealth or the office manager; the pastor of a mega church or one whose congregation numbers a few handfuls, your words matter. Sometimes, thinking of ourselves as just a mom, or just a teacher, or just a cook, or just a bus driver or just a nobody, we inadvertently underestimate the impact of our words, failing to realize that what we say can help guide and shape the thinking and behaviour of those within our sphere of influence. But no matter how vast or how small the reach of our influence is, what should concern us most here, is the way we use our words to impact others.

If for one week, everything we said could be taped and then re-played to us; I believe we would be amazed at the things we so thoughtlessly say that would better be left unsaid. When we’re angry, we don’t think rationally. We say things out of our anger and can hurt the people we love most. Hence the reason it’s so sensible to remain quiet until after we calm down. And even when we believe our assertions are true, we still have to be careful in our choice of words, so that we do not come across as unkind, also bearing in mind that we don’t always see the whole truth. Sometimes, we aren’t even aware that we’re looking at things through our own tunnel vision, then even when all the facts point in another direction, we still can’t accept the truth – and what’s worse, we can garner a following of blindsided folk.

That’s why we must always pay attention to our words. Each of us must decide whether we will choose words that are kind and gentle or tactless and offensive. We decide whether we will choose words that bless or words that hurt. We decide whether we will choose words that resolve conflict or words that cause strife. We decide whether we will choose words that encourage others to keep pressing on or words that make them want to quit. We decide whether we will choose words that tear each other down or words that build each other up. We decide whether we will choose words that foster trust or words that cause misunderstanding. We decide whether we will choose words that provoke to anger or words that inspire others to be the best version of themselves. We decide whether we will choose words that champion just causes or words that will incite violence among others. Each and every day we wake up; we get to decide on our choice of words for the day!

To contact Sharon, write to P.O. Box 484, Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Dutch Caribbean. Email: allbecauseofgrace@gmail.com.