For as long as I can remember, I have loved to sing. I remember being in choirs and singing solos in elementary school and at church. In the car, I would sing along to whatever was on the radio station, or just make up songs as I drove. I never had any dreams of singing professionally or making it on Broadway. I knew I wasn't the world's best singer, I just simply loved to sing.
My senior year of high school, I tried out for the concert choir and madrigal at Kickapoo. The madrigal was known for being the school's best singers. Miraculously, I made it. My confidence grew as the year progressed. By Christmas time, I was singing in a quartet, and thoroughly enjoying myself. On one occasion, however, I had a bad night. I was trying to sing through a sore throat and a sinus infection, which, in itself, wasn't smart. I knew my performance wasn't perfect, but I thought it was passing. Afterwords, my teacher approached me and said, "Ethan, you sounded horrible." She found someone to take my place for the performance the next day. Looking back, it was definitely the right decision. However, those words have stuck with me now for the last 16 years. Whenever I sing in front of people, I am constantly fearful of someone saying, "Ethan, you sounded horrible."
We don't fully appreciate the power of words.
It is by the power of the spoken (and sung) Word that God created all things.
It is by the power of the spoken Word that Jesus resisted temptation.
It is by the power of the spoken Word that people's lives are transformed forever.
Too often, we use words to defend ourselves and protect ourselves, to explain our position. More often than not, these words are subtly (or not so subtly) addressing a listener and proclaiming the speaker's superiority or worth at the expense of the other.
What would happen if we trained and conditioned ourselves to only say that which was beneficial for everyone listening?
What would happen if we would speak only those words which encouraged all people?
What would happen if we truly realized that words give life, or take it from us?
How much bloodshed and heartbreak, how much needless violence and pain, how much hurt and misery has been caused because of words spoken with twisted, demeaning motives?
Maybe that proverb from the world of Disney is just what we need to live by--
If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.