My vacuum cleaner died yesterday, and I think it was my fault. It was supposed to be a really high quality vacuum. Consumer Reports rated it very highly, and we paid a lot of money for it…and it never worked well. It scratched my hardwood floors, and the power nozzle worked occasionally. I frequently had to drive over dirt on the floor or carpet several times before it actually disappeared, and it rarely picked up everything on one pass. You might say it “didn’t suck”, and you would be partially correct.

 But yesterday I was in a hurry. I was trying to vacuum before I ran errands, and, as usual, the vacuum was not cooperating. The fourth time I had to restart the motor in hopes of coaxing the power nozzle to start, I actually cursed it in anger…and it hasn’t started since.

 I turned it off and on, over and over, to no avail. For the briefest moment, I wondered if somehow my words had actually been effective, rather than just an emotional outburst. In retrospect, I don’t believe my curse had any effect in the demise of my vacuum, any more than my pleading restarted it.

 But our words do have incredible power. We can use them to bless, to encourage, to inspire, to rebuke, to condemn, to destroy. I still remember hurtful things said to me in anger decades ago. I still draw strength from encouragement spoken by people who chose to bless me in a life changing moment. Words can be a gift or a weapon. May I choose to bless those in my path more often, and may I choose to give mercy instead of venting my frustration.