I think it was around high school that I first started to understand the power of words. It didn’t stop with that realization, however, as I also noticed I had quite the power to use them. The good news was that understanding words have power early on in life means you give them more weight. The bad news was that I was still deciding if I wanted to be a superhero or a supervillain. Did I want to abuse it for selfish gain or selflessly give it away?
In high school, I held an ocean bitterness in my heart. In those days, I often told myself that it was me against the world. Therefore I often thought of the destructive power of words. I thought of all the awful things I could’ve said to people to ruin their days, things that could make a lasting impression. I liked the thought of that power, the power to shatter the spirit of another human being and, what’s worse, I prided myself when I had the self-control to not let those vitriolic seethings past my lips.
“Oh I could’ve chewed them out, I could’ve cut them down so badly that they’d never forget it, but I didn’t so obviously I’m doing well in my Chrisitan walk.” Those were the things that swirled around in my head as I fought the festering feelings of animosity and aggression.
How twisted are the thoughts of those walking in darkness.
Over the last five years, my journey to learn about my superpower has been nothing short of a struggle. It’s very easy to do damage when you’re honestly trying to help.
(Just reference any of the Marvel movies if you need proof of good-intentioned and completely accidental superpower damage)
The first two years out of high school, as I started to struggle with finding myself and letting others in, I thought I was doing well in my usage of words but I was naive. I had yet to learn that selfish use of your superpower, no matter how honest and true the feelings that provoked the use were, was just as harmful, if not more, than purposely destructive use. It is often in our well-intentioned selfishness that we hurt the people closest to us while intentional destruction is often aimed at enemies, or others we could care less about and who could care less about us.
Thankfully, I went and studied the power of the word. I was mentored by a woman who knows full well the power of words whether spoken, written, or implied.
It was in the stacks of papers and books that my knowledge of the power of words turned into a cherished love, a reverence, an awe.
But as the reverence for words grew in my heart so did the darkness, trying to suffocate the light that was healing the scars of regret I’d carved into my soul over the many times I’d unintentionally mangled the feelings of my friends in my own hurt and pride. This suffocation at it’s worst is my ultimate kryptonite, it leaves my mind full of words of truth but my mouth unable to speak them or my hands unable to write them into existence. It paralyzes my soul and leaves me groping blindly, powerlessly at the bottom of a well.
It was in the middle of this first suffocation, however, that I found the cure. It came in a four-letter word:
I may have finally chosen to use my superpower for good instead of evil, but I am not invincible, no superhero is. I will never be able to reach the full potential of this power if I can’t continue to repeat this little word that requires the greatest trust, humility, and tenderness. Without it, I’ll get by, but it will be much easier to get caught up with the bad guys again. With it, I’ll have people to remind me of the strengths I’ve been given and people to fight beside me when the battle is too much to handle on my own.
I am grateful for my superpower but I am indebted to those who help me learn to use it. For as easily as one becomes a superhero another becomes a supervillain. It is not our powers themselves that are good or evil, it is the way we choose to use them.