Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. How many times did you chant that as a child? I chanted it often. But that’s not really true, is it? Words do hurt. Their impact can last a lifetime.
The tongue is a powerful tool. It has the ability to wound like a sword. You can use it to cut someone straight to their core. Words can cause division so quickly. A friend of mine recently posted the following statement on Facebook…
The uncontrolled tongue can do terrible damage. Satan uses the tongue to divide people and pit them against one another. Words can spread destruction quickly, and no one can stop the results once they are spoken.
This is truth, friends. Our words may be small, but their impact can be so huge. Conversations can turn a day around so fast – for better or for worse. We have to mindfully check ourselves before speaking so that our words do good instead of harm.
Once a word is spoken, it can’t be taken back. It can be forgiven. It can be retracted, but it can’t be forgotten. But, like a scar on the skin, the wound is still there. I am almost forty years old, and I can still remember things that were said to me in my childhood that wounded my heart. Unfortunately, I can also hear myself saying hurtful things to someone else. If I remember saying them, does the recipient remember hearing them? Do my words still hurt their heart?
I don’t want to hurt my children with my words. In the busyness of life, I find that sometimes I get so caught up in the moment that I speak before I think. Okay, maybe often times. I lash out when a glass of milk is overturned. I rush the kids, because they are taking too long to get ready to leave the house. I snap because I’m tired. And, who ate the last scoop of ice cream?!? What’s worse than hearing myself speak unkind words is hearing my children speak that way to each other. I thought it was bad the first time I heard my mother come out of my mouth! It’s worse when I hear me come out of my kids’ mouths in a hateful way.
Take heart, though. Just as you have the ability to wound someone with your tongue, you can also do good. You can use your tongue as a tool to build someone up. You can speak hope and encouragement straight into the heart of someone you love. You never know when God will put you in the right spot at the right time to speak right to the heart of another. I want my friends and family to remember me for my gentle spirit and kind words not my snarky comebacks.
This is especially important for me as a parent. I want my children to remember the times I listened to them and responded with just the right words. I want them to hear my words of encouragement whisper to them in their times of doubt. I want them to remember our conversations when they have to make tough decisions. I want to hear my kids speak to each other with gentle words, because that’s what I have modeled. And, so I work on it. I have to check myself sometimes and walk out of the room before responding or reacting to my children. They know that I do this so that I can speak gently to them.
It is up to each of us to decide – before we open our mouths – whether we’re going to use our tongues for good or evil. Do I want my words to come back to haunt my kids? Or do I want them to be able to draw from my wisdom and encouragement when they need it?