Language: A Part of Communication.
Words, sentences, languages: What are they? How do they affect us, our families, and others with whom we speak daily?
One word—just a single, simple word—can bring a variety of thoughts and influences.
A combination of words can make sense or express foolishness. One word could mean approval or denial, blessing or cursing, doubt or knowledge, friendship or enmity.
The way we say one word, the intonation we use, may cause love or hate.
Words can be harsh, melodious, soft-spoken, announced, or even shouted.
They can roll like a wave and enthuse and bring victory and pride.
Words can be distilled drop by drop like a poison, or eat away like a cancer.
They can be articulated or mumbled; but every time a word is said, watch it, because it can never be retrieved. It is gone with the wind, gone forever.
Usually we select our words, sometimes using a particular vocabulary, and we employ certain words because of their meanings and the connotations that we want to project.
Usage varies, depending on whether we ask, want, pray, persuade, force, influence, or subdue.
Words are a form of personal expression. They differentiate us as well as fingerprints do. They reflect what kind of person we are, and tell of our background, and depict our way of life.
They describe our thinking as well as our inner feelings. But where do they come from, and why is language so peculiar?
It started in the beginning: Language is of divine origin. Only mankind speaks.
Anacharsis, when asked what was the best part of man, answered: “The tongue.” When asked what was the worst, the answer was the same: “The tongue.
”We know by experience, however, what negative words can do to individuals, if not controlled. So when we work to better ourselves, do we think only concerning our attitudes?
What about corrupted language; foul language; slang; and words evoking evil, dirt, and destruction of the body and soul?
The name of Deity is to be used to touch hearts and give light; it is not to be used in vain or to be mocked.
In our home, we do not even allow derivatives of Deity to be expressed, such as: gosh, golly, gee, etc.
We also do not say, “You are a bad boy.
”Instead say, “What you did was bad, we need to work on that,” or “What was done was in poor judgment. What can you do next time to not fall into that trap again?”
We do not allow family member to use words such as: dumb, stupid, racist, ugly, bad, etc.
We even encourage them to be careful to not use repetitious words: like, ya’ know, duh, etc.
Our words define us, set us apart from others, tell others who we are and what we stand for.
Words can get things done, commitments fulfilled, or miracles accomplished.
We may, because of words, be moved to tears or to laughter, feel great or miserable, be exalted or condemned.
Language is divine.
Some may know this but do not realize its implications in their daily family life.
Love at home starts with a loving language.
This need is so important that, without loving words, some become mentally unbalanced, others emotionally disturbed, and some may even die.
No society can survive after its family life has deteriorated, and this deterioration has always started with one word—one single, simple word.
The above is an edited version of the following talk: Language: A Divine Way of Communicating by Charles Didier from the Ensign, October, 1979.
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I begin by mentioning one of the most inevitable aspects of our lives here upon the earth, and that is change.
At one time or another we’ve all heard some form of the familiar adage: “Nothing is as constant as change.”
Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness, the loss of a possession we treasure.
But most of the changes take place subtly and slowly. Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now.
The lives of all of us, of course, go through similar alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details.
Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes.
This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief.
Opportunities come, and then they are gone.
I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not.
I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do.
Instead, find joy in the journey—now. In the musical, The Music Man. Professor Harold Hill, one of the principal characters in the show, voices a caution that I share with you. Says he, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.” 1.
There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today.
Many years ago, Arthur Gordon wrote in a national magazine, and I quote:“When I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus.
But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment.
Then we heard him say [into the phone], ‘No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.’
“When he came back to the table, Mother smiled. ‘The circus keeps coming back, you know,’ [she said.]
“‘I know,’ said Father. ‘But childhood doesn’t.’"2.
If you have children who are grown and gone, in all likelihood you have occasionally felt pangs of loss and the recognition that you didn’t appreciate that time of life as much as you should have. Of course, there is no going back, but only forward. Rather than dwelling on the past, we should make the most of today, of the here and now, doing all we can to provide pleasant memories for the future. If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly.
Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us.
Often we assume that they must know how much we love them.
But we should never assume; we should let them know.
Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.” 3
We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.
Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks.
Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friendsmove away, children grow up, loved ones pass on.
It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re g
one from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.”
Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”4
Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitudefor our blessings.
Said one well-known author:
“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities.
It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend …
when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present— love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]— the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”
Many years ago I was touched by the story of Borghild Dahl. She was born in Minnesota in 1890 of Norwegian parents and from her early years suffered severely impaired vision.
She had a tremendous desire to participate in everyday life despite her handicap and, through sheer determination, succeeded in nearly everything she undertook.
Against the advice of educators, who felt her handicap was too great, she attended college, receiving her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Minnesota.
She later studied at Columbia University and the University of Oslo. She eventually became the principal of eight schools in western Minnesota and North Dakota.
She wrote the following in one of the 17 books she authored: “I had only one eye, and it was so covered with dense scars that I had to do all my seeing through one small opening in the left of the eye. I could see a book only by holding it up close to my face and by straining my one eye as hard as I could to the left.”
Miraculously, in 1943—when she was over 50 years old—a revolutionary procedure was developed which finally restored to her much of the sight she had been without for so long.
A new and exciting world opened up before her. She took great pleasure in the small things most of us take for granted, such as watching a bird in flight, noticing the light reflected in the bubbles of her dishwater, or observing the phases of the moon each night.
She closed one of her books with these words: “Dear … Father in Heaven, I thank Thee. I thank Thee.”
Borghild Dahl, both before and after her sight was restored, was filled with gratitude for her blessings.In 1982, two years before she died, at the age of 92 her last book was published.
Its title: Happy All My Life. Her attitude of thankfulness enabled her to appreciate her blessings and to live a full and rich life despite her challenges. 6
My sincere prayer is that we may adapt to the changes in our lives, that we may realize what is most important, that we may express our gratitude always and thus find joy in the journey.
An edited talk by Thomas S. Monson from the October 2008 Ensign found at LDS.org
Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, The Music Man (1957).
Arthur Gordon, A Touch of Wonder(1974), 77–78.
William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 1, scene 2, line 31.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, in Gorton Carruth and Eugene Erlich, comps., The Harper Book of American Quotations (1988), 173.
Sarah Ban Breathnach, in John Cook, comp., The Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd ed. (2007), 342.
Borghild Dahl, I Wanted to See (1944),