by Marcia Lee Laycock
I live in a country where the weather is a constant focus of conversation. This summer for instance, everyone has been commenting on the heat or the last thunder storm that blew threw. Our climate lately seems out to prove that global warming is a reality. Because Canada is so vast there are several climate zones. To name a few, there’s the mountain zone which tends to be on the cooler side, the prairie zone which can be scorching, the coastal and maritime zones which are lush due to the amount of rain, and of course the Arctic zone which can reach amazing extremes.
The climate, of course, is caused by all kinds of varying factors and everyone knows it can be unpredictable. But there are certainties in each zone. The Maritimes will have more rain than the prairies and the arctic’s temperatures will dip lower than any other area of the country. The climate is dictated by their location.
A climate can be created by other things as well. A climate of fear, for instance, can be stirred up by the media. A climate of revolution can explode when governments don’t listen to their people. Such climates are dependant a great deal on the words used, over and over again, by those wanting to manipulate people and often whole countries. Just ask a political speech writer or a news anchorman. Just ask anyone who writes. The words matter.
I was at a gathering of friends lately that reinforced this in my mind and spirit. Some of those who were there use, well, I’ll call it ‘colourful’ language. Toward the end of our time together one of them turned to me and said something about the fact that they all knew I’d never use a certain curse word. I have pondered her motivations for saying that. She has known me for over 35 years. She knows there was a time in my life when I would have used that word and many others like it. So perhaps she was being sarcastic. Perhaps she was saying, “we knew you when you weren’t so holier than thou.” Or perhaps she was taunting me, trying to get me to say the word, to prove that I was, after all, just like them.
I’ve spent some time pondering that moment and my reaction to it. You see almost did say that word. I almost blurted it out, perhaps out of a need to belong, perhaps I just wanted to fit in or prove that I’m not “holier than thou.” I’m not sure. I’m still pondering. But I’m glad I stopped myself. I said no to that temptation because I know words matter and I believe that word, and others like it, create the kind of climate that is not where I want to live.
I want to live in a climate of peace, grace and love. So I try to follow Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Because words matter.
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has two devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.