Friday, March 23, 2012

Language with a Mystery Friend

A few weeks ago I read an article about the controversy surrounding teachers and their language in the classroom and whether or not there should be legislation to hold teachers accountable for their bad words.  As I read the comments below the article I was saddened to see overwhelming support of teachers who "slip up", intentionally use the "F" word and the attitude that bad language isn't a big deal.  Whether or not this is a topic to be legislated is beside the point in regards to my line of thinking.  I'm concerned for a society that justifies adults setting poor examples, not using restraint in their speech or actions and I  wonder how this will affect our kids and future generations.

I have a very close friend, or as Anne Shirley would refer to her- my bosom friend, who has really studied this topic and has some strong feelings about it.  She's an amazing person with great insight and I think you'll agree when you read what she has to say about language.

To give you a little of her intriguing background, she's the wife of an American diplomat.  With that has come experiences most of us only dream of such as living in far away countries, attending embassy balls, learning new languages and cultures.  At certain times during her husband's deployments she's found it necessary to keep personal information discreet for safety reasons.  These are just some outward details though.  More importantly and defining, she's a woman of faith.  She is loyal and honest.  She's a caring wife and amazing mother with a tender, loving nature.  She's spiritually minded and inspirational.  When she has problems and trials, as we all do, she turns to God.  These are the more important traits that really testify of who she is.  Please let me introduce to you:  L. Rochelle.

A Little Light Conversation 
by L. Rochelle 

 “Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” 
                                                                                      Mother Teresa 

 I have always been a visual person. I picture my life, my soul, as a clear crystal vase. As a new baby - I was filled only with the light of Christ. My daily actions, the things I view, the food I eat, the thoughts I think and the words I say all add content to my vase. A few unplanned items slip in through the choices of others, but for the most part, I am in control. Ideally, I will choose only those things that keep my vase completely clear and I will quickly remove any impenetrable objects that find their way in, so that Christ’s light can continue to fill me, unrestricted, throughout my life. 

 With that image in mind, I have begun to pay special attention to the words that fill my life and to question whether they reflect or obstruct the light I desire. 

            Exodus 20:7 
           "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not       
            hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." 

 This scripture, gives perfect guidance with regard to use of the Lord’s name, and, if we are sensitive to His will, we actually cringe at it’s improper use -- a feeling that tells us when something chokes out a portion of our light. 
 What about other words? What power do they have to cloud our souls? And, do they have power beyond restricting our own light? 

           Colossians 3:8 
          "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out 
           of your mouth." 

           Ephesians 4:29 
          "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is
           good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." 

            D&C 63:64:
            Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and 
            by constraint of the Spirit; and in this there is no condemnation, and ye receive the Spirit 
            through prayer; wherefore, without this there remaineth condemnation." 

           3 Nephi 12:37 & Matthew 5:37 
          "But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever cometh of more than these 
           is evil." 

In these four scriptures, we gain a greater understanding of the Lord’s will with regard to our language.   

In the first one, we are told to put off (or get rid of) filthy communication. In the second, we are advised that “corrupt communication” should not be spoken and that the things we say should be edifying, or that it should lift those to whom we speak. We also learn that good communication does have power to improve life for others. Third, we are cautioned regarding talk of sacred things, and last, we are told that simple communication is the best. 

 So, what is filthy or corrupt communication? I’d define it as anything that is vulgar, demeaning, degrading or disrespectful. It is words that dirty our figurative vases and the vases of those around us. Most of us are capable of recognizing those things in our speech, but sometimes, we still, carelessly, leave darkness behind. Conversely, we can and should make choices to say things that leave our associates brighter than before. How often do we hold onto our praise because we’re afraid to share it? I’m sure that the still small voice must be cheering us forward, because Ephesians 4:29 tells us to let that which is edifying come out, so that it “ministers grace [or light] to the hearer.” 

 Sacred refers to things of heaven, things the Lord has created, and things that are part of the Lord’s plan. Those sacred things include the powers that belong to Heaven (power to judge and to curse or to damn souls), it includes His creations (our bodies), our covenants with him, and the power he has given us to procreate. When we refer to those things with vulgar terminology, in casual conversation, or when we disregard their importance in any way, we offend the Lord and block the light which could be filling us with peace and happiness. Words that fall into this category have become so commonplace in our day - on television, in school halls, and in the mouths of our friends and co-workers - that often, we do not even recognize them. Our children are growing up with sullied vases, because of our carelessness, and whether used in ignorance or indifference, these words diminish the light of both speaker and hearer. 

 And last, simple speech. I have pondered this scripture for many years. As a teenager, I wondered if the Bible was trying to tell me that I shouldn’t say anything except “Yes” or “No,” but of course, that didn’t make sense. How could we have the scriptures and share the wonderful knowledge of the gospel with only a variety of yeas and nays? As I pondered, I began to notice the difference in communications that were simple and those filled with adverbs, adjectives and expletives. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not advocating the removal of adverbs and adjectives from our language. What I suggest, is that they can get in the way of clear communication. We need to make ourselves aware of that fact, and choose them with care. Example -- I have written several letters to businesses whose services have not impressed me. As I have re-read those letters, I realized that they were peppered with my rambling frustrations. A simple, “I am not satisfied with your service. The product was not what I had anticipated. I would like you to resolve it this way,” would have served the purpose much better than ranting. In other situations as well, simplicity, is the key. It removes emotion, and gets the message across with clarity. 

Each one of us has our own sparkling crystal vessel. If we guard both our actions and our tongues, we keep the light glowing brightly within us and in those around us. Imagine how much light would flood the earth, if we were all careful to keep dimming elements out of our vase! 

      “What we say and how we present ourselves not only betray our inner person but 
       also mold that person, those around us, and finally our whole society. Every day 
       each of us is implicated obscuring the light or in chasing away the darkness. We 
       have been called to invite the light and to be a light, to sanctify ourselves and edify 
 Elder Robert S. Wood, “The Tongue of Angels” 

 I invite your comments.


  1. What a wonderful and thoughtful post. I have long been concerned with language and its affect. Recently a woman started to work where I work. Her language was so bad. I had never heard anything like it and it was very offensive. Many of us let her know we did not appreciate it and amazingly, she has really toned it down. I think, at least at work, she is making a concerted effort especially since we do not use inappropriate language. I am amazed at people that think nothing of swearing. I often say to myself, there are so many words in the English language, why do those need to be used. They leave me cringing and wanting to avoid people who speak that way. I appreciate your friends thoughts. Thanks for sharing. Nola

  2. What a powerful post filled with great wisdom and great examples. I loved the scriptures quoted. I really feel sad that you can hardly go anywhere without hearing the Lord's name in vain or crude and vulgar words. It is so true the Light of Christ is dimmed by that individual. It is so bad in the schools; and it is so scary. Thanks for a very timely post. I also loved the quote by Mother Teresa.

  3. Just Rambilin',

    It's awesome the lady you work with is toning it down. It shows that she has either a desire to not offend or has respect for you and your other co-workers. Sometimes it's important that we speak up. If it wasn't for that, no doubt you'd come home each day a little darker.

    The schools are bad. My kids have said they constantly hear the Lord's name in vain- that at school they don't consider that a no-no word, they also hear the "F" word constantly. It makes my heart sad to think that my kids ARE the light. I wish they could go and get enlightenment easier instead of everyone having to depend on them for it...make sense?


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