Last week I admitted that I had spoken some unkind and unnecessary words about someone I know. From the response I got from you I found that I am not alone in, at times, giving in to the seduction of speaking hurtful words. Whispering about others was a common stumbling block when we were little girls and continues to invite us in as we grow older unless we make a conscious decision to do otherwise.
You left comments, wrote emails and/or talked to me about how hard this problem has been for you. You told me how painful it is to be the “object” of unkind words. You told me of the struggle to forgive after mean words have been aimed at you or at someone you love. You confessed that you have to be careful because it is difficult to not participate in careless talk.
I am sorry that you have had to suffer from someone else’s or your own hurtful words.
I have not forgotten an experience that I had with some heartless words many years ago.
I was sitting in a car with several other college girls while our driver ran into the grocery store for a minute. We looked up and three boys were strutting across the street, headed our way. I was a shy one, sitting in the front seat and as they approached I turned my head away, not knowing what to do. The lead “cool dude” said to me, “I don’t care about you anyway, Sweat Hog. There are cuter girls in the back seat.” These cruel words cut me to the core and led me down a bad path of insecurity and body shame that I really didn’t need any encouragement to follow. These words were spoken carelessly. And they still sit in my memory.
Let’s be determined to stop words that hurt. It doesn’t matter how angry we are. Let’s stop.
It doesn’t matter how true those thoughtless words feel. Let’s stop.
It doesn’t matter how vehemently we feel about what we are saying. Let’s stop.
It doesn’t matter how good it makes us feel to speak them out. Let’s stop.
But it does matter that every person is worthy of respect whether we agree with them or not. Every person will judge me by the words that come out of my mouth especially if I carry the name, Christian. I represent a beautiful Father and cruel words do not reflect the truth of Him either. If I have an anger problem perhaps its time to get help to deal with the deeper issues that cause me to lash out or to say mean things…whispering, shouting or typing…
As I was reading in Matthew 10 this morning, I found that Jesus had instructions for the disciples as they went out into the villages to heal and minister among the people of Israel. He told them many things but these four instructions stand out to me today:
Be on your guard.
You’ll be given what to say.
Don’t be afraid.
You are worth more than many sparrows.
I found comfort in these instructions. May we be on our guard against the one who entices us to hurt others with our words. The Holy Spirit is ever near, giving us the words that will build up and edify. We need not be afraid in the journey because He is with us and finds us worth more than we can ever imagine.
Have you found times where you were alert and open to the Spirit’s guidance? This should be our norm. I’d love to hear your stories of God’s grace to help you find kind and edifying words when you were tempted to speak differently.
Many years have passed since my college years when that boy’s words carelessly tossed me aside, looking for a prettier girl. His name-calling no longer makes me feel ashamed, but it reminds me to be ever aware of the power of words - the ones spoken to or spoken about. I would be wise to heed this counsel and be determined to never again use my words in ways that have the potential to inflict pain.
Thanks for sharing your stories with me.