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Seeking Wisdom, Day 15 – Soft Words

February 22, 2016

(Proverbs 15: 1) A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.

Sometimes we are caught between making our words heard and making our words felt, the difference between a thunderstorm and gentle rain. In college I had a voice  teacher who recommended I stay out of a classroom. “You will never be heard,” she said. “Your voice is too soft.” She planted a seed of doubt in me, but I learned to project my voice through my diaphragm instead of my nose, and I  lost my New Jersey accent. Another educational instructor said, “If you want to be heard above the noise in a classroom, speak softly; lower your voice to a whisper, and your students will have to calm down to hear you.” The words that are always heard are the soft words, the encouraging words that the listener stretches his neck forward to hear. Gentle words are a tree of life. (Proverbs 15: 4)  You don’t need a big stick or a loud voice when you use soft words.

King Solomon said much about words, although a king, with more authority than a teacher, will make his words heard. Charles Dickens illustrated the importance of words to reveal character in his beloved story,  A Christmas Carol. Somehow, at any volume, the phrase  Bah-humbug tells the reader that Ebenezer Scrooge has let his miserly perception of the world color his life as well as his speech. His words were harsh, and they could hurt. “Don’t be cross uncle,” said his nephew. “What else can I be,” returned Scrooge, “when I live in such a world of fools as this.” Such words reflect the speaker’s bitterness and his unhappy life.

Scrooge changed his words and his life after three visits from supernatural apparitions, when he said to his nephew, “Merry Christmas, Bob.” Then he ordered the biggest turkey in the poulterer’s shop for the family of his clerk, Bob  Cratchit, father of the crippled Tiny Tim, who ends the story with the famous words, “God Bless us, Every One.” For the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

For a happy life, we are urged to speak softly, spilling out words of encouragement and love. Then we are using the words of wisdom.

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