“When I was a child I spoke like a child…” 1Cor 13:11
Part of my Lenten reflection has been focused on language. This self examination has brought both some embarrassment and a sense of growth. When I think about the things that I said when I was much younger, I cringe. Yet, when I think about the transformation of my language (by the grace of God and the patience of others), I humbly rejoice.
Words matter. There is no truth in the childhood rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Words are powerful. They can cause great pain or great affirmation. It’s not a matter of what is often referred to as “politically correct.” It’s about “respecting the dignity of every human being” and “seeking and serving Christ in all persons.”
Whether it be sexist, racist, homophobic, or being passive aggressive, words can often be a weapon to demean or diminish. Yet as importantly words can inspire, enlighten, clarify and provide identity.
As part of my Lenten discipline, I asked some folks to help identify some consistent words they heard me say. After we moved beyond the “Brian Priorisms”, the feedback was Episcopal Church in Minnesota, God’s mission, ministry, resource, collaboration, help, and support. You might be interested to know that part of the feedback came from people outside Minnesota. All of these are things I am incredibly passionate about.
Words do matter. Realistically, I have and will inevitably say something that will be painful to others. For those words it is my responsibility to ask for forgiveness and to seek amendment of life to change my language.
In the end, my hope is to passionately, as Paul tells the Ephesians, “Speak the truth in love.”