This I Believe

Brenda - Yorktown, Virginia
Entered on April 13, 2007

The Power of Words

I believe that words are powerful. They can evoke pleasure or pain. When used with cruel intentions they leave an emotional scar. However, if used with care they can help heal wounds, like an antibiotic for the soul. The words you choose can mean the difference between reaffirming greatness or inspiring insignificance.

Mrs. Allen was my third grade teacher. She may have suspected that my home life was troubled, but she never discussed it. One afternoon a group of students gathered around her desk trying to figure out what SMTWTFS stood for. I piped up and said, “It stands for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.” She looked at me with pride and said, “That’s right, wow are you smart! You are going to be something some day.” I could not believe that someone was actually saying something positive about me, in front of an audience no less. As Mrs. Allen spoke, I wonder if she had any idea that those words would follow me throughout my life. If somebody that I respected believed in me, maybe I should too. She taught me to choose my words carefully, because they may be the only compassionate and inspiring words a person hears.

Mrs. Allen always had too much food. She would implore me, daily, to eat the orange on her desk so that she would not have to throw it away. I could not believe how many times the cafeteria messed up and gave her two lunches. It was up to me to help her out by eating the extra food. I wonder if she knew that sometimes those lunches were the only meal I had that day. Mrs. Allen would say, “Thank goodness that you are here so that this food does not go to waste.” She illustrated that choosing words carefully can help another while leaving their dignity intact.

Mrs. Allen had a knack for getting “free” stuff that she did not need. She asked me once if I could do her a favor and take the free hairbrush she received, as it would not fit in her drawer at home. She told me that she wanted to learn how to braid and asked me if she could practice on my dirty, oily, hair. Looking back, she sure was fast for someone just learning how to braid. Each day that Mrs. Allen and I would work on my hair, she would remind me to take a bath so that it would be easier for her to braid. That year I took the best school picture ever. She demonstrated that if you choose your words carefully, you might help a poor, neglected, little girl fit in.

I believe that words can inspire and give hope. Mrs. Allen changed my life and I try to live by her example everyday. She confirmed the importance of choosing your words carefully, because it is usually the people who do not seem to be listening who are listening the closest.