From the beginning, the importance of words has been made clear. In the King James Version of the Bible, you find in Genesis that “And God said” is used ten times in the first chapter. We, believers, hold fast to the truth that God spoke and His Words created. We are instructed in the teachings of the Bible that we need to be careful of our words and yet in this world in which we live today, words range from careless to downright cruel.
I’ve been doing a study that carefully looks at the meaning of words and how the way they are translated can impact how we understand the words we read in the Bible. That led to me thinking about how the words I say to others, and what they say to me, are translated.
We each hear and interpret the things people say based on our varied life experiences and our emotions. An adult would not, in most cases, use the same words to a three-year-old that they would to a thirty-year-old. There are many times we speak and hear, without giving it much thought because we are well practiced in communication.
So, why am I giving it any thought? Well, I would guess it’s because that’s the way my brain is wired. (A smile should be happening here)
Sometimes I wonder if we become too familiar with people and situations and no longer really hear what they are saying, what they are meaning. We think we know, sometimes so sure of our own understanding, that we are forming responses before the other person has even stopped talking and as a result, we cease to hear all that is being said. Possibly missing a crucial part of what is being shared. I wonder if that is when people stop sharing what is close to their heart because it just doesn’t seem worth it if no one is going to listen.
Sometimes we forget that God created us to be different for a reason, and when we speak, especially when we are trying to comfort, or encourage, we offer what we’d want to hear and not necessarily what the other person might need, or even want to hear. It takes an effort to be observant, to get to know someone, to be sensitive and put ourselves way in the background. But, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?
I recall times when some of these very things have happened to me, and I basically shut down in a conversation. It was easier than saying or doing something to hurt the other person’s feelings. What difference did it make, really, if what I said was totally missed? But how fair was that to the other person? Should I have done whatever was necessary to be heard?
I was thinking about how sometimes people would tell me they needed me for one thing or another, from helping with something to just spending time with them. From my background as someone who always enjoyed doing for others, being a comforter or caregiver, that would be what you would expect someone to say, thinking that knowing I was needed was important to me. But I heard my inner thoughts one day saying, ‘why does need always have to be a part of it? Sometimes I prefer to hear I am wanted, not needed.’
See how our life experiences and our emotions can turn a well-meant choice of words into something frustrating or even wounding based on our interpretation of the words used?
Words. Great for comfort. Great for wounding.
These are things the Lord has put on my heart, to search myself and see my own guilt in not being careful of the words I use, or don’t use. Why I pray, Lord, don’t let anything I say or do today fail to bring glory to You.
And yes, I know things like these, for people that sincerely care about others, are not common occurrences. As we seek to follow our Lord and all He has taught in His Holy Word, we trust Him to equip us to be ambassadors and to be a reflection of Him. We know we can’t get so hung up on who said what and who meant what to the point communication is awkward or even non-existent.
But we are still humans, working out our salvation, and sometimes we just miss it. Which is why, on occasion, we are led to take a good look at ourselves, to see if we are in line with all the Bible teaches us about being His disciples.
So, what started as a fascinating study of translations from Greek and Hebrew into English led me to wrestle with words spoken and received, and what my role in their proper usage has to be.
May the Lord richly bless your walk with Him.