Pronunciation Guide

Thursday, August 14, 2014

“W” is for words


They have such power, don’t they? I mean, I’m a writer. I’m counting on my words having an impact on people. I write, hoping that what I have to say will make a difference to someone somewhere someday.

The power of life and death is in the tongue.

Anyone who has been wounded by words will know this to be true.
As will anyone who has been saved by them.

My friend sent me a quote the other day: “Broken children grow into broken adults. To create a more peaceful future for our planet, we need to create a more peaceful present for our children. Our world needs more heart-whole adults, not more refugees from childhood.”

Most people are not whole. Most of us are refugees from childhood, whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we want to be or not.

Hurt people hurt people. And one of the primary ways is with words.

I believe everyone has a deep cry in their hearts: “Do you delight in me? Am I enough? Do I have what it takes?” Most often, our parents answer those questions.

Ari’s mother is verbally and emotionally abusive toward her and has been as long as Ari remember. Her words cut through Ari’s heart and become the condemning voice inside her head. For Rab, it is not so much the vicious words that pierce her heart – it is the unspoken ones, the silence, the accusations of betrayal. Their mother doesn’t know how to love either of them; she attacks Ari and neglects Rab. Both girls grow up searing with pain, open wounds festering inside.

Jehur strives to please his father, to hear those words of affirmation, validation: “Yes, you have what it takes! You are enough!” They don’t come. Silence weighs heavily. His failure to become what he believes his father views as a man haunts him. Public humiliation and being revealed as not good enough don’t help. He is one of my older characters (at least of the humans), but he is broken, parts of him still stuck at seven years old and aching for his daddy’s approval.

Azcmavel (from this post and this post) is haunted by his father’s words. Though not outright abusive, his father was cutting, emasculating. Incapable of offering approval and oblivious to the chasm he was creating in his young son’s heart. He didn’t know any different – his own father was the same way. Whereas Jehur’s question was mostly ignored, Azcmavel’s was answered with, “No. You are not enough. You’re weak. You’re pathetic. You’re a coward. And you’ll never be any different.”

…Hurt people hurt people.

It becomes a vicious cycle. Children learn what they live. Then they live what they know.

Tirhakah is on the opposite side of this. His parents loved him, taught him what true strength is. They validated him, encouraged him. From the time he was little, they used both actions and words to show him what he meant to them. When others picked on him, mocked him, he stood strong because he knew who he was. He knew he wasn’t a mistake or unwanted – his parents and siblings loved him; he was no different from his siblings, no less of a priceless person. He had a purpose. Though broken by external circumstances and haunted by his choices, the encouraging words have remained with him, have carried him through. (His wife’s words offer immense healing and encouragement as well.) And as such, he is able to affirm, encourage, see through to the heart of broken people and speak to their greatest need: unconditional love and acceptance.

I don’t really know how to end this, so I’ll just end with this: be very careful with your words. Think before you speak and don’t speak in anger. You truly do carry the power of life and death in your tongue.

Choose wisely.

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