At church today in Relief Society we discussed the impact that words have in our lives – speaking kindly about others, speaking gently to our children, expressing gratitude for service given to us, gossiping, crudeness, etc. Many thoughts whirled around in my head while our discussion was taking place. First, I thought of the many times when I have failed miserably to keep my temper in check saying things I wish I hadn’t said and in a tone I wish I hadn’t used. I have improved a great deal but still have a steep part of that mountain to climb.
“In that same spirit we speak to the sisters as well, for the sin of verbal abuse knows no gender. Wives, what of the unbridled tongue in your words? How is it that such a lovely voice which by divine nature is so angelic, so close to the veil, so instinctively gentle and inherently kind could ever in a turn be so shrill, so biting, so acrid and untamed? A woman’s words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined. Sisters, there is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind, including gossip or backbiting or catty remarks. Let it never be said of our home or our ward or our neighborhood that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity … [burning] among our members.” Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Tongue of Angels,” Ensign, May 2007, 16–18 mouth, of the power for good or ill in
Second, I thought of those people who I truly like to be around. Why do I like being near them? Because they don’t gossip, they are kind, they give compliments rather than criticism. One person in particular came right to the forefront of my thoughts. (She’s the one we named Fudge after). I have never heard this special lady say a bad word about anyone. When a conversation would start to turn gossipy she’d stop it just by giving a compliment about the person being talked about.
Third, I am appalled at the words I hear some people use just as I browse the aisles at the store. Seriously, has society gone so far downhill that no one knows how to express their dismay or even excitement without resorting to crude language?
“Over the years, there has been an increase in sexual innuendos, raucous humor, violent expressions, and great noise in talk, in music, in gestures. Much around us is crude and rude, with a corruption of moral behavior and sensitivity. Society has not been improved by our “light speeches” and our “light-mindedness” (D&C 88:121). Instead, our expressions have polluted our communities and corrupted our souls.” Robert S. Wood, “Is Your Talk Cheap?,” New Era, Jun 2001, 46
Fourth, expressing thanks goes a long way. Do you ever think about someone from your past that helped you in some way? Maybe they were just a good friend and you’ve lost touch over the years or it is a teacher who opened your eyes to new possibilities.
A couple of years after I was married I thought about my 8th grade English Lit. teacher, Mrs Humble. She introduced me to the love of poetry – made the whole class want to memorize a poem and then recite it for the rest of the class to critique. She’s also the one who had me give a presentation on my LDS (Mormon) faith during a time when I was getting so many questions from my friends about it after they’d had their Methodist or Baptist youth group discussions on “The Mormons.” Even though I was scared to death she understood that it would help more than anything. She was right. My friends weren’t ever afraid to ask me questions or to tell me they’d corrected their pastor on something he’d said about my religion. Anyway, I decided to send her a Christmas card thanking her. It’d been at least seven years since I’d seen her so imagine my surprise when I received a reply back. She remembered me! We’ve kept in touch ever since. Mrs. Humble even brought some Christmas gifts for my children one year when we went back to visit my folks in Georgia for Christmas. And to think I could have missed out on her letters if I hadn’t taken the first step to write to her.
A couple of weeks ago I was feeling very overwhelmed. Everything seemed to culminate on the same weekend – the ward activity we were in charge of, the lesson I had to teach in Relief Society, the musical number I played in Sacrament Meeting, and then Mr. Ferrero Rocher taking the three oldest to Fallon for a special meeting on the same Sunday I had to teach and play. Feeling rather forlorn I opened my e-mail to find this letter from the very same special person I talked about above. (Names have been changed to our aliases and first initials of her family)
I needed to write you and thank you for giving piano lessons to my children. As I am writing this, I hear N in the background playing away. I am astounded at his ability. He can sit down and play just about any hymn. He won the Farm Bureau Talent in November for the 9-13 year old division. He plays prelude for Primary. On Sundays, after Church concludes, he hurries to the organ to play. You really started something quite phenomenal. Thank you! (I can still remember him telling us that he was “retiring” when you decided, after Cookie was born, to conclude your piano teaching. I also remember he and C attempting to devise a plan purporting a closer relationship so that they could continue to be a part of your piano family lesson program. My children love you.)
Reading your blog, life in “W” sounds marvelous. We miss you. We’re thankful that we have K in our ward.
I hope she knows how her kind words touched me that day. I guess where I’m going with all of this is let someone know how they’ve touched your life even if it has been a few years. Speak more gently to your family. Spread cheer instead of gossip. Use your words to build up, comfort, gladden, elevate.
“So, brothers and sisters, in this long eternal quest to be more like our Savior, may we try to be “perfect” men and women in at least this one way now—by offending not in word, or more positively put, by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels. Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity, the three great Christian imperatives so desperately needed in the world today. With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail.” Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Tongue of Angels,” Ensign, May 2007, 16–18