“We are shaped by the words of those who love us or refuse to love us.”
It’s a powerful concept. One that piqued the interest of ten women gathered at my home for five Tuesday mornings recently. We used Sharon Jaynes’ book, The Power of A Woman’s Words. From the very first paragraphs, we were all amazed at the truth of the title – and how much we needed to learn about using our words wisely. As Jaynes writes, “Our words can spark a child to accomplish great feats, encourage a husband to conquer the world, fan the dying embers of a friends broken dreams into flame, encourage a fellow believer to run the race set before her, and draw a lost soul to Christ.”
Our Book Gathering
I invited some friends to this group study with an email that began, “I wish I hadn’t said that!” How we all related to that thought. Who hasn’t had an experience where they wish they could pull the words back into their mouth? The flip side of regretting our words, however, is the positive power of our words. Jaynes does a brilliant job of illustrating this through engaging and profound stories liberally sprinkled throughout her book. Reading these stories brought us face to face with the tremendous impact of our words on all the different people who make up our world –husbands, children, friends, fellow believers, the world, strangers, and even our words to God Himself through prayer.
Powerful Words, Powerful Stories
One of the many poignant stories Jaynes tells is at the beginning of the book. A young boy has had a mostly bad experience in school. Fifth grade stands out as one of his worst years. Understandably, he felt like a failure, since the words he heard that year from his teacher over and over again were, “Howard, you are the worst behaved child in this school!” But everything changed in 6th grade. At the beginning of the year, the teacher took attendance. “Howard Hendricks,” she called out. As Howard sat with his arms tightly folded in front of him, the teacher said, “I’ve heard a lot about you.” Then she smiled and said, “And I don’t believe a word of it.” Howard describes the effect of those words, “That moment was a fundamental turning point, not only in my education, but in my life. Suddenly, unexpectedly, someone believed in me.” Howard went on to be a success in school and in life. In fact, he became a doctor. That is the power of words!
We started our study by considering the most memorable words ever said to us. Interesting…Some were words of love and encouragement and some were painful and damaging. It’s not an exaggeration to say words have literally shaped who we are. Once we understand just how powerful our words are, as demonstrated in the first section of the book, “The Power We Possess,” Jaynes leads us to take a good look at the words we say to all the people around us, from our closest family members to the strangers we encounter through our daily lives.
A Call to Consider Our Words
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This book called us to self-examination. For the women in our summer study, these chapters were sobering. We all had some regrets, thinking of times we gave into the temptation of gossip, or criticized our kids, or used our words to nag and tear down our husbands. But…we were also inspired! We could all agree – it’s time for a change.
Changing Our Words
The last several chapters of the book, in the section called, “The Potential for Change,” gave us practical steps we could take toward using our words for good. Through God, through His Word, and His Spirit, we have the power to change. Through choosing to tame our tongues…and practice, practice, practice, we can change our “grumbling to gratitude.” And sometimes, we can choose the wisdom of not speaking at all.
A Life Changing Book
For me and for our small group, this book was a life-changer. Through moving, inspiring, and sometimes painful stories, we were reminded in no uncertain terms our words have power. This is a book I plan to read once a year; to remind me that the words I choose matter. They can build up or tear down. As Jaynes says, “Our very words have the potential to change the course of a day…to change the course of life.”
The Power of a Woman’s Words by Sharon Jaynes
Study Guide and DVD also available.
Phyllis Doerr has been married to her husband for 22 years and together they have two cherished teenage sons. Over the past several years, Phyllis has realized her long-term dream of teaching. She began educating this next generation as an elementary school teacher, a job she finds challenging, rewarding, and inspiring. Phyllis has led several prayer groups and bible studies in her home. Phyllis is passionate about Jesus and loves sharing Him through the fellowship of women as they journey together toward discovering more and more of God’s truth and how to apply that truth to their lives.