We all have stories in our lives where we gave out or received words that hurt. Those words were powerful…But even more powerful are the words which are given or received with strong and sincere feeling to build up, teach, edify, encourage, and heal.
One of the most amazing stories about the power of words is from the life of Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Helen Adams Keller was born a healthy child in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 1880. Sadly, as a toddler, Helen became completely deaf and blind, as a result of rubella or scarlet fever. As Helen grew into childhood, she became more and more wild and unruly. With her parents at their wit’s end, Anne Sullivan was hired to be Helen’s teacher and companion. Anne was severely visually impaired and well- trained in signing and Braille. Anne did all in her power to communicate with, and guide, Helen toward learning language and improving behavior.
During a family meal, it was common for Helen to move about the table and plunge her fingers into everyone’s food and faces. Once, when Anne attempted to gently restrain Helen to remain in her own chair, she burst into another raging tantrum. Helen flung her plate of food and full cup across the table. In a strong attempt to teach Helen, Anne hauled Helen forcefully, with her empty cup, outside to the water pump to refill it. As she was helping Helen try to understand, and getting soaked in the process, she repeatedly hand-signed the word “water” into Helen’s palm. It was during this event when Helen’s mind was awakened to associate and remember “wa-wa”, and to comprehend that the strange signing motions inside of her palm were actually words! This key moment changed everything for Helen and Anne. The power of words, from a loving and dedicated teacher, unlocked Helen’s mind to a lifetime of joy-filled learning and miraculous contributions.
I have thought about all of the words that were acquired and stored up inside of Helen Keller over a lifetime. She didn’t receive anything but carefully selected and touch-given language. To read her writings and speeches is to glimpse a pure and beautiful soul.
WORDS HAVE POWER
What words empower and positively influence us and our children?
How often do we give out, or receive, negative or positive words or thoughts?
How does this affect us?
What can we do to teach the effect of our words?
Here’s a powerful story about our ability to consider and choose how we feel, think, or speak…
Every day is an ongoing opportunity to think and say the right thing, and positively affect ourselves and others.