My Words: Balm or Napalm?

Words hold great power. Power to lift up, to heal, to encourage; power to diminish, to discourage, to destroy. We cannot possibly grasp the potential for healing, or for damage, contained within the words we speak.

This is even truer of the words we write.

I wrote a poem a few years ago. I don’t always remember to whom I have written in the past, but this one was most likely to God. It could apply to a few people in my life, but only a tiny few.

i cried to you, my heart laid bare
and you stepped close and held me there
as moments passed i couldn’t speak
no words would come; my voice was weak
when finally i could meet your eyes
i searched them but saw no surprise
just love like none i’d ever felt
so deep i thought my soul would melt
your soft expression seemed to say
my child, give me your thoughts today
i smoothed my hair with trembling hand
inept to help you understand
the ache within, not even i
could word the pain or quell the why
of being left outside alone
to face the darkness on my own
but as i pondered all these things
it brushed me like a monarch’s wings
the kindness in your gentle look
as though you wrote me in your book
and somehow even scared i knew
it’s safe to give my heart to you

When I came across it again today it set me to thinking about how I use my words. Do they heal or injure, lift up or tear down? A lot rides on whether my words help others to believe in themselves and draw closer to God, or crush fragile wings of self worth and send them fleeing the God who alone could save them.

I have been the recipient of both.

I once received a message that burned like a branding iron to the depths of me. In a few paragraphs I was reduced to a wretched excuse for a person not worthy of breath. The sender’s words seared like Napalm in places I didn’t know it was possible to hurt.

They are still burning. Napalm is like that.

Today I am thinking about my words, whether they heal or hurt, what their impact will be in moments, in days, in years to come. Will they be a balm to soothe and heal, or Napalm to stick and scorch and slaughter the tender places in another’s heart?

God forbid that my words ever bring harm. Make me a safe place for another to share her heart, sure that her story will be cherished and held and never rejected or condemned. Most importantly, make me an arrow that points her to you, the only one who can bring complete, eternal healing.

Close my mouth and still my fingers to all words but those you author. Only then can I honor you with what I say.

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Lisa Easterling is a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay area alongside her husband Steve, five children, and two grandchildren. A pioneer for home education in Florida, she has served in various areas of Christian ministry for the past 32 years. Lisa is a lifelong writer, editor, creative writing coach, and Site Director for Write Where It Hurts. Her favorite place to write is near the ocean, and she particularly loves helping others to fall in love with words. Lisa blogs at and can be reached by following @writepraylove on Twitter or emailing

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

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