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March 26, 2018

In the Beginning was the Word

We are studying the book of James at our church. A couple of weeks ago, our pastor taught on the third chapter of the book of James, which is all about taming the tongue. I've read these verses many times, and have listened to teachers speak about the importance of keeping our words in check on more than several occasions. This time, though, our pastor used John 1:1 to illustrate the power of our words. The verse in its entirety states, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." But our pastor asked us to stop and consider just the first part, "In the beginning was the word, " to relate it to our own words. He said something to the effect that if we trace back to the origins of conflict within relationships, healing or destruction comes from the words we say after the event that caused the conflict. Were my words full of grace, encouraging or life-giving? Or were they destructive, hurtful and careless, leading to disastrous consequences?

To me, that was profound. Trace the words back to the beginning.

Being a speech-language pathologist, words have always been extremely important to me.  My students' words impact me every day. I agonize over those first, hard-to-come-by words, meticulously planning and strategizing the best way to facilitate their emergence. I rejoice along with their parents when those precious words are spoken. I provide enticing, naturalistic contexts for new words to be learned, and then help children learn to shape those words into intelligible phrases and sentences to help them become effective communicators. I teach my students to recognize the power of their words, and have watched how their lives have changed as they grow.

But after hearing that message, I began to think about how my own words may impact my students.

I want to shower my students with words of encouragement and acceptance. I want to view them as worthy of only receiving my best words, those that are spoken with kindness and patience. I want my words to be a reflection of the knowledge I have gained over the years in this wonderful field, effective and instructive. I want them to build up, not tear down. I want my words to be intentional, never careless. My words have power, too, and I want them to be used as a force for good.

In the beginning was the word.