Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Talk too much and you will eat what you say!"

21Words can bring death or life!
   Talk too much, and you will eat
   everything you say.
Prov 18:21

Delicious words. I love them. I love new words, old words, fancy and simple ones. I love putting them together on a paper with a pen, or typing them out on my laptop screen. I enjoy writing for business and writing for pleasure.

In my current line of work, there is a huge emphasis placed on the written word. Any time you talk contracts in the U.S., you talk the written agreement. I cannot tell you how much heartache I've witnessed based on the misunderstanding that a conversation accomplishes a contract. The "But you said..." phrase breaks my heart when I hear a confused resident think back on a previous moment of connection with a person in the office. It's not that it didn't happen if it didn't get put in writing, it's just that it doesn't stand up legally if it's not writing. Until something is written down and usually signed by both parties, there is no certainty if it's "just talk," still at the level of imagination, or if it's really going to happen. 

I think it's interesting that the only way to truly navigate the discomfort of these exchanges is to expertly and gently wield the spoken word with compassion and certainty. You can't make someone feel better by putting it in writing. You have to talk, listen and let a person know they're heard. 

The written word is now turning into tiny bites like text messages, status updates, "tweets," and chats. Our attention span is thinning. All the while, I wonder if we take less time for conversation, exchanging ideas, sharing our innermost thoughts, giving feedback and comfort. Will we ever give up communicating altogether?

I have friends who speak multiple languages. I mean, more than two. This is amazing to me -- think of all the communication possibilities they have! I am severely limited by my usable knowledge of one delicious word menu.

So, in the defense of words, written and spoken, I have been thinking about how I can really use their power. I've been considering how many ways words enrich my life. And I've decided to share a few with you, in case you're feeling a word drought. 

  • Try writing a letter. I get letters and notes from friends occasionally. Even though snail mail is dying, it's still one of the brightest spots in my life to receive a care package or a card. Can we mail one package/note per week to someone new for 2 months? That's roughly 8 people. 8 brighter days. 
  • Sponsor a Compassion child -- the letter-writing aspect of this program is huge. I just got an email today that they are in desperate need of people able to sponsor older children. 
  • Learn a new language? I'm going to try to (again). There is nothing like learning a new language to awaken the brain to all sorts of new ways of thinking about the world. It's not just different sound combinations, it's actual thought constructs and methods of expression that are different. [I remember this from my years of Spanish and semesters of Japanese. Both of which I loved!] You can find podcasts and of course there's always Rosetta Stone. This will open doors to travel and even new job possibilities. 
  • Find some new blogs out there. Sharell is one of my favorite bloggers nowadays, but my brother-in-law Daniel also wrote something fantastic the other day about the insight and invite of Jesus. I thought how glad I was that I keep up with the blogs of close family and friends as well as complete strangers in other countries. Wow! Small world! You can use Blogger, Wordpress and other internet venues to find topical blogs on pretty much anything. 
  • Listen. Watch for body language. Two ears. Two eyes. One mouth. Value words by listening first and listening beyond what you hear before speaking. Think twice, speak once, right? I say many foolish things per day, but I save many more foolish things from coming out when I realize that what I'm about to say is purely motivated by ego, manipulation, sleep deprivation, or an overreaction. 
  • Journal. Say what you need to say. Don't be afraid -- conflict isn't always bad. Words must be carefully chosen and fearless.
That's all I've got for tonight. I love words. Write some to me anytime! 

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