by Kari Diane Pike
Last Sunday, my sister-in-law made a quick comment in a lesson she taught in Relief Society that took my breath away.
"Never underestimate the power of words. God said, "Let there be light" and there was light. The world was created by the power of the Word.
That small bit of her wonderful lesson has been swirling around in my brain ever since. How often did I hear that childhood rhyme, "Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"? When I was growing up, that was the go-to retort when someone called me names or spoke hurtful words. But those words did hurt--a lot-- and left emotional scars far deeper than any proverbial stick or stone could inflict.
In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi wrote that his purpose for keeping his record was to "persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham and be saved" (1 Nephi 6 - chapter heading). He commanded his descendants to write nothing on the plates "which are not of worth unto the children of men" (1 Nephi 6:6). Alma taught that the word of God "had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them--" (Alma 31: 5). Pres. Boyd K. Packer explained "The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior" (Ensign, Nov. 1986).
What have I written that might of worth to future generations? What have I written or said that has wounded a tender heart? When I make comments on social media do I stop to think about how the things I write might affect another person? Or do I post status updates the way I drive on the freeway, all too often seeing only the cars cutting me off or speeding carelessly, and forgetting there is a real person, living a real life, behind the wheel? I heard at a seminar last year that by the end of one week, something posted on Facebook will have been seen by more than 150,000 people. And that's if it doesn't go viral. I want the words I say and write to uplift, enable and enlighten those who hear and read them.
Something else that has been on my mind the past few weeks has to do with my actions. More than at any other time in my life, I have witnessed that if you truly want to learn to love another person, do something for them. The more inconvenient for you, the better. Sometimes, that service may be nothing more than saying a kind word along with a smile and a hug. Other times, the kindness can be found in the words not allowed to roll off the tongue or onto a page.
Words are powerful. Never underestimate the power of words - both said and unsaid. What are you going to create with the words you use?