TITLE: July 24, 2014
By Ingrid Forsberg
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All our words are seasoned. We can use words seasoned with kindness or with cruelty. The seasoning we use can make the taste of truth bitter or not. Words are powerful and as a little rudder can change the course of a huge ship, a few words can change the course of a life.
As the Chaplain at two juvenile probation camps in Los Angeles County in the 1980’s I saw the effect words have on lives. I was loved by the wards because I was honest with them. I respected them and called them gentlemen. The color of my skin was not the same shade as most of theirs. That did not seem important to them. I was not a member of their sex or generation and I did not grow up in neighborhoods similar to theirs. I was street stupid and did not know or use street language. None of that mattered. What mattered is I seasoned my words with honesty, action, respect, openness and God’s love.
Sometimes no words are the best ones to use. One of the wards who wanted to talk to me was a very lonely teenager. I gave him my full and undivided attention but said nothing. He talked nonstop for almost an hour. Three separate times he talked to me at length. Three times I did nothing but listen. He had years of stuff to get off his young chest. After the third time he said, “Thank you Chaplain. You sure did help me.” He was important enough to be listened to. He wasn’t just a throwaway kid after all.
Each week several wards would want to talk to me. Their words had a tremendous effect. I would ask what they wanted to talk about. Every week one or more would ask if he could become a Christian. There is no higher high than those I experienced after leading young people to Christ. I always had to be ready to point the young men to Christ.
They were all people God created and loved deeply, that’s how I saw them. As a result they were receptive; a lot of good was accomplished. But how can I take credit for all the good when there were a number of people faithfully and consistently backing the camps in prayer? When God added the seasoning my words made a positive difference. People prayed, I talked, God seasoned.
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