Words—they are an essential part of our day and something we could not easily live without. Over the past few years I have been contemplating this fact and applying it to every situation I face. As a senior English major I deal with words night and day. I read words. I add words and take away words. And I search for the right words. Little did I know, words play a huge role in my day as an intern at Camp Faith.
Last week I saw that another intern had hung up little envelopes in her classroom for her campers to write to each other. I hung up purple yarn in the hallway and pinned paper lunch bags on it, one for each girl. Throughout the week girls begged to go “check their mail” and reminded me over and over to check my mail for a note they had given me.
The mail bags have become a great tool to love my campers. Through them I can reach out to the girls who feel loved by encouraging words. I can make sure I give attention to those who might be quieter and don’t get as much attention. I can also send notes back and forth, building conversation with them. These notes have forged a path to get to know the girls in my group beyond our music, art, and Bible study rotations. This has been just one way the power of words has emerged this week at camp. It amazes me how God has used such a simple idea. Even when I get notes from my campers I am encouraged. The mail bags have influenced both my campers and me.
Another incident with words happened while I was talking to a family about their child’s problematic behavior during the day. The parent was disappointed but apathetically added that they already knew their child was “bad.” This made me sad. What kind of future will this proclamation bring to this child as she grows older? Will she continue to misbehave because that’s all she thinks she can do? I want to reverse that kind of thinking. A lot of influence in these situations rests on the power of words. I want to be someone who walks beside kids in a progressive journey, saying, “Maybe this will be the summer that you change.” Instead of quickly chiding a child, perhaps I can encourage her to think before she acts. I can remind her that she has the ability to choose to do better.
Language was an important part of Jesus’ ministry. One of our Bible studies this week was about when Jesus was just a child. He was found in the temple among the teachers “listening to them and asking questions” (Luke 3: 46). Jesus seemed to have a grasp on how to properly use the exchange of language. If you follow His life you will notice the way He engaged language. He often asked questions and used stories and examples to illuminate a point. He also knew when to listen. Upon studying His time on earth you will notice how He used language brilliantly to bring light and life to those He was with.
Perhaps words are more important than we realize. It’s terrifying and humbling to recognize how powerful words are. The way I engage language can move or immobilize. Questions can open up the doors of hearts. Words have sway in every sector of life– in my witness, in college essays, and even at camp.