Hello, dear friends!
I hope you’re having a wonderful fall and transition into the colder months! Here at Her Heritage HQ, we are absolutely stoked for Christmas…in fact, this weekend yours truly appeared in a Christmas Parade as Sleeping Beauty, along with an amazing princess squad and my mum as the Elf on the Shelf!
Here’s a peek at my Sleeping Beauty dress, which I made to be inspired by the make-it-pink-make-it-blue scene in the movie…it has pink on top but when you move or twirl, the colors shift to show the blue underneath! 🙂
But anyway, on to the topic at hand. Recently, I was traveling in the far reaches of the land (aka Los Angeles), and in my favorite store ever, the Daiso Store (which is actually a Japanese dollar store), I found something that got me thinking. Have a gander.
I loved and bought this pen not only because it’s beautiful and, you know, I have a thing for fairytales and princesses, but also because of the irony it holds (and the fact that it was only $1.50 didn’t hurt). They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but this pen, quite obviously, is a sword. Cue classy British laughter. I know, I know…I’m easily amused.
As an aspiring writer, I absolutely acknowledge the wisdom of the old adage I just cited, but even more than written word, I tend to think that in our age, there is something even more powerful: spoken word.
My friends, we live in an audio-dominated world. From music to radio to podcasts, spoken words are everywhere, not to mention the visual media that would be reduced to virtual silent movies without their accompanying audio.
As an extremely talkative, hyper teenage girl, I know all too much about spoken words–statistically speaking, a girl my age can use over 20,000 words daily. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes around me also knows this, especially if you get me talking about knitting or 1930’s big band swing music or Jane Austen. Or sloths. Or guacamole.
But, as I’m sure we all know from unfortunate experience, spoken words have a dark side. Words can sting, burn, and, quite frankly, feel like a sword has stabbed you in the heart. Especially when it comes to close relationships with friends and family, words can turn on you in an instant. Personally, I know that there are certain words of this kind that will stick with me forever. Sometimes I’ll be washing dishes or reading a book and something will dig those mean things out of the past and send them flying back into my head as if they were new…and I’ll tell you something: they don’t hurt any less years later. Even just on a surface level with people you don’t even know, words can be ugly things. I know that many a time, I’ve left a store or a restaurant or even finished watching a YouTube video wishing that I hadn’t heard some of the ugly, awful words people choose to speak. So, why do people do this? Why is spewing hurtful and/or obscene words a cultural norm?
I know, I know…you probably think I’m overreacting. I mean, everyone has the ability and the freedom to speak whatever and whenever they want to, so just calm down, Grace.
Everyone does have that ability, right?
I’d like to tell you about one of the girls I had the pleasure of serving this summer, when I worked for three months at a camp for children with chronic medical conditions. For privacy’s sake, I won’t share her real name, but for these purposes, let’s call her Marina.
Marina was like a lot of ten-year-old girls. She liked the colors pink and purple. She loved music and dressing up in costumes. She enjoyed painting and drawing. She loved jokes and pranks. She was also probably one of the sweetest, kindest little girls I’ve ever met–she could make anyone smile and laugh, and I do mean anyone. Whenever I got stressed, Marina could always brighten my mood and help me to realize that everything was okay. She was a true princess, inside and out.
She was also almost completely nonverbal.
Except for a couple of words, in addition to a truly beautiful laugh, Marina couldn’t speak. She was also mostly nonmobile, with only a little bit of movement in her arms and head. Marina made use of the few words–and movements–at her disposal wonderfully, and never once did I find conversations with her to be awkward.
In short, she was a light–a very bright one.
Countless times, I could see how mentally alert and present she was, and I could only imagine what she would say if she could.
I wonder how much more she would value her words if she could speak as many in one week as you or I do in one day.
I wonder how much more that precious little girl would consider every word to ensure it was uplifting and kind before speaking it.
I wonder what an impact those words could make.
One very popular song at camp this summer among little girls was the song Princess Jasmine sings in the new live-action Aladdin movie, “Speechless.” To be totally honest, I haven’t watched this movie yet, but when I heard “Speechless” this week, it meant something more to me. This song is all about people wanting to silence you and drown out your voice, and Jasmine sings about how regardless, she won’t go speechless.
My dears, we live in a world where, quite frankly, uplifting words are often drowned out by the ugly ones. People tend to think that hateful, dark words can give them an edgy aesthetic and make others think that they are tough or street-smart. Those of us who try to fill our words with light and kindness are far too often dismissed as sheltered, weak, delicate flowers. Much of the time, the world thinks that just because you don’t choose to spew certain words, you don’t have strength and that you’ll be easy to silence.
Sweetheart, I beg of you, don’t go speechless.
Don’t let your pure, kind, uplifting words be suffocated.
Please don’t think that succumbing to using those ugly words is your only choice.
Trust me, I know what it is like to feel the weight of the world pushing on you so strongly that it seems no one wants to hear your words. No one cares about a snowflake like you, right? Wrong, my darling. So wrong. You may never know how many people are listening to you. In any given situation, there could be countless peers, coworkers, or friends who silently cheer every time you don’t give in. Perhaps even more importantly, there are those who are still trying to decide where they stand–and your words could make a huge impact on them.
I know all of this might sound a bit melodramatic–I mean, this isn’t Narnia, after all. It isn’t as though spiritual battle is going on, right?
Wrong again, hypothetical little gnome who lives on this page and answers all of my posed questions. 😉
I remember very distinctly that when I was a ripe young tween and going through a bullying situation, a Biblical writing class I was in assigned a reading and essay on the book of James, and through it I discovered one of my favorite books in the entire Bible. James is a short read, but the opening words of Chapter Three especially convict me and make me want to stand up and shout amen.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
That’s the thing: even as we have all been wounded by the words of others, we have all also, at one time or another, shot poison from our tongues. I know there are things I’ve said in my life that I’m not proud of, and that I wish I could take back. Spiritual battle, my dears–it’s a real thing. This is why I stress not giving in to the evil around us–I beg of you, don’t turn this into a if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-em situation.
The truth of the matter is that every time you continue to use good, pure, kind words, you are winning, you are conquering, and you are honoring God–no matter how mundane things may seem.
That guy behind you in line at the coffee shop? He probably needs a kind word after he drops his coffee and spills it everywhere while his coworkers laugh at him.
That girl in the library who looks like she’s been crying? You might want to compliment her outfit–it could be the only nice thing anyone says to her today.
That cashier at the grocery store who’s just been publicly chewed out by her boss? Use that grey matter of yours to come up with a few uplifting words–they might keep her from breaking down.
The fact is that we humans are imperfect…we’re never going to have perfectly tamed tongues, and that’s okay. God knows we aren’t perfect, and that’s why we have a relationship with Him–so that we have someone to turn to when we mess up and so that there is someone who applauds us when we do the right thing, even if no one else does.
You, yes, you, could be the rudder of the ship that turns it in a new direction. Your words have power, my friend–no matter how powerless you may feel right now.
Every single day, you have the opportunity to do what sweet little Marina obviously wanted so badly to do but couldn’t.
I’ll leave you with this challenge, dear reader.
One of my favorite books of all time, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett, gives a wonderful summary of why our words are so incredibly important.
“If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that—warm things, kind things, sweet things—help and comfort and laughter—and sometimes sweet, kind laughter is the best help of all.”
I challenge you right now to use your words to give. Give freely and generously without giving a thought to the ugly words swirling around you. If you don’t think you can do this on your own, then that’s okay–that’s what God is here for.
And, incidentally, that’s kind of what I’m here for too, in a much smaller way. The entire reason I write on this blog is because–just throwing out a wild guess–I know that there could be other girls out there experiencing the same things I do. If you’re one of those girls who’s just trying her best to be a light in this world, I applaud you, my dear. You’re not alone, I assure you, I’m right there with you. The reason I don’t post super regularly here is that I want what I write here to have real meaning–I don’t just want to be an empty shell full of fluff that isn’t actually going to do anything for you. The honest truth is that I know I can only write these things when God lays something on my heart–without Him, I can’t do any of this. This week, that little sword pen got me thinking, and I hope it gets you thinking, too.
Don’t be rendered speechless. I implore you, use your words this week to uplift–regardless of whatever manner of repulsive substance the people around you are spewing. If not for yourself, do it for Marina, and all the people like her who don’t have the privilege of speaking.
In other words, yank that sword of verbiage out of the stone and start using it, princess.