Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How Language Affects Us

On Sunday, I taught the Young Women.  The lesson was on how the language we use affects us and others. 

As I was preparing, I read this quote:  The prophet Harold B. Lee said, "The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today."  Before beginning to prepare my lesson, I thought I was pretty good at using clean, respectful, loving language.  But as I studied and pondered and prepared, I recognized areas where I need to improve. 

I love the story that President Hinckley tells in his conference talk "Be Ye Clean".  It's a story of a dream that the prophet Joseph F. Smith had while serving a mission in Hawaii.  It's worth reading in its entirety but essentially, Joseph F. Smith was pretty destitute as were the people he was serving. One night he dreamed he was hurrying to a beautiful mansion.  As he neared the mansion, he saw a bathhouse.  He entered and bathed and changed into clean clothes and then hurried to the mansion.  When he knocked, Joseph Smith answered and said he was late.  He replied that he was late but that he was clean.  He entered the mansion where he saw many leaders of the Church. Joseph F. Smith said that dream had a profound impact on him and increased his confidence.

President Hinckley said, "The result of that dream was that a boy was changed into a man. His declaration “I am clean” gave him self-assurance and courage in facing anyone or any situation. He received the strength that comes from a clear conscience fortified by the approbation of the Prophet Joseph."  Being clean can also give us self-assurance and courage.  It also allows us to call down the power and blessings of heaven.  It's worth any cost to be found clean.

I'm not going to share my entire lesson, but I found many quotes that spoke to me powerfully.  I want to share them primarily as a reminder to me/my family of the importance of clean language but also in case they are of help to anyone else.

"...at least some things we say can be destructive, even venomous—and that is a chilling indictment for a Latter-day Saint! The voice that bears profound testimony, utters fervent prayer, and sings the hymns of Zion can be the same voice that berates and criticizes, embarrasses and demeans, inflicts pain and destroys the spirit of oneself and of others in the process. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing,” James grieves. “My brethren [and sisters], these things ought not so to be.”  --Elder Holland

" A woman’s words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined. Sisters, there is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind, including gossip or backbiting or catty remarks."   --Elder Holland

"I love what Elder Orson F. Whitney once said: “The spirit of the gospel is optimistic; it trusts in God and looks on the bright side of things. The opposite or pessimistic spirit drags men down and away from God, looks on the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield obedience.” We should honor the Savior’s declaration to “be of good cheer.”...Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself." --Elder Holland

Ephesians 4:32 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” 

"So, brothers and sisters, in this long eternal quest to be more like our Savior, may we try to be “perfect” men and women in at least this one way now—by offending not in word, or more positively put, by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels. Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity, the three great Christian imperatives so desperately needed in the world today. With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail."  --Elder Holland

"Let us oft speak kind words to each other
At home or where'er we may be;
Like the warblings of birds on the heather,
The tones will be welcome and free.
They'll gladden the heart that's repining,
Give courage and hope from above,
And where the dark clouds hide the shining,
Let in the bright sunlight of love.
Oh, the kind words we give shall in memory live
And sunshine forever impart.
Let us oft speak kind words to each other;
Kind words are sweet tones of the heart."

"Profanity displays poverty of language. We note the increasing coarseness of language and understand how Lot must have felt when he was, according to Peter, “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.” (2 Peter 2:7.).... Language is like music; we rejoice in beauty, range, and quality in both, and we are demeaned by the repetition of a few sour notes." --President Spencer W. Kimball

"May we try not only to talk, but to say something; not only to hear, but to listen; not only to write, but to communicate." --Richard Lederer (author of a book entitled The Miracle of Language