The Power of Words

Words have the power to build or to destroy. This week I’ve revisited one of the worst ways I’ve ever misused words and taken steps of redemption.

My best friend growing up was my opposite in many ways. She was outgoing and fun; I was quiet and serious. But we enjoyed each other’s company and complemented each other, bringing out the best and toning down the worst.

Our junior year in high school, I sensed her pulling away from me. Instead of talking to her, I chose the cowardly path. I wrote a letter. Even more cowardly, I slipped it into her locker. Oh, and that letter! The venom flowed through my pen as I chronicled everything she’d ever done that annoyed me. Any close, long-term friendship can generate a long list, but it should never be put to paper!

The friendship was shattered. Our mutual social network lay in shambles. Worst of all, I hurt my friend deeply. And we each lost out on joys we can never recover – long phone calls from college groaning about boys, holding each other’s babies, and being there for each other always.

Over the years I’ve prayed for the opportunity to tell her how wrong I was and how sorry I was – and this week, I found her on Facebook. We “friended” each other, and I’m thankful for this second chance.

Words are powerful, and the written and electronic word have a permanence I will always be wary of. Every day I grapple with this power and struggle to choose my words wisely, edit mercilessly, and season them with prayer.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” Ephesians 4:29.

3 Responses to “The Power of Words”

  1. Keli Gwyn

    Sarah, how awesome that you’ve been given the opportunity to restore your friendship with someone who’s meant so much to you. The lessons we learn as a result of our mistakes are some of the most powerful–even though they’re often accompanied by tremendous pain. May you and your friend create some wonderful new memories.

  2. Laura Frantz

    Wonderful post! I’ve experienced that this week as I had my first negative book review. I realized anew the power of words written or spoken. Can’t take them back ever – how carefully we must hand them out! My editor said for every negative comment we need 3 postive ones. Facebook is an amazing reconnection and I’m so glad for you.

  3. Sarah Sundin

    Thank you, Keli and Laura. And Laura,
    I’m sure you’ll get 20 positives to balance that negative. Sadly, some people live to criticize others. Don;t understand it – but they’re out there.