In this final post on my “Love Series”, I want to speak about one of the most powerful ways we LOVE, through our words.
“Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!”
This is not the truth! This is a blog about speaking Gods Truth in Love, so let’s get honest. Words hurt, they hurt badly! Sometimes so deeply, that the scars that are left remain with us forever. Long after a cut, a scrape, a bruise, or even a broken bone has healed. HONESTLY, words can leave such deep wounds that sometimes they remain open! They can even ooze at times, causing that insecurity that we live with to rise to the surface once again. They can cripple us in fear, or even paralyze us. Sometimes a scab forms but then we hear it again, that word, maybe in the form of an accusation, or maybe unintentional by the one who spoke it. We are faced with the situation and the insecurity rises in us so greatly that the scab is pulled off and it causes us to bleed again.
That very untrue phrase is often said by kids trying to deflect the silly words thrown at them as they encounter their first socialization experiences. Do you remember some of the hurtful things you heard or said?
“You can be my friend if you pick me first.”
“I like you, I’ll invite you to my birthday party.”
“You’re not my friend anymore!”
“Poo Poo head”
It often starts out so innocent. After all, “they’re just kids.” However, it only escalates from there. It’s grade school, or middle school, and you start hearing, “You can’t be on my team, you’re not any good.”
“That dress is ugly.”
“Is that all the money your family has, that’s what they buy you?”
” You’re fat!”
“That’s the grade you got on that test?”
“You’ll never be good enough.”
…the list goes on and on.
In fact, you can fill in your own blanks. No matter where we were raised, no matter how affluent or non-affluent our family was, we all heard words. Words that hurt, words that have stayed with us.
I remember the words spoken to me in fifth grade like it was yesterday. I was the oldest of four girls. My baby sister was born that year. My other two younger sisters were small, in fact you could say tiny. I was taller, I was bigger, and even though my first sister was only 11 months younger than me, she looked 3 to 4 years younger than me. She never fit into my hand-me-downs until 2 to 3 years later! That year, some of the boys in school started calling me “Pig.” As I write the words my hand shakes. I still hate writing it, because somehow admitting it seems to bring up fear that it may be true. I have always struggled with feeling that I am too big. I wasn’t back then! I look at pictures of my skinny legs, and I am still surprised that that is me. It is not how I saw myself. Those words hurt, they wounded me deeply, and they made a mark on my life that I have fought continuously. My family never made me feel like that. My mom told me I was beautiful, my dad told me I was beautiful, my sisters never teased me or made me feel big, but those words sunk in deep! They caused a wound, and they are a scar I still carry with me.
Now, we’re all grown up. We’re past all that right? Or are we? We certainly have learned to be a lot more careful about what we say, how we say it and where we say it. In fact as adults we disguise it much of the time in humor, or sweep it away with the comment, “just kidding.”
Well, let me tell you something, to this “Words of Affirmation” girl, “I am just kidding,” doesn’t take away the sting of the words spoken. In fact, sometimes it makes me feel like that person does not care about what they just said, and certainly not about the way it affected me.
Our words are so powerful and an incredible tool. With them we can build up, or tear down. Weather or not your love language is “words of affirmation,” words still affect all of us. Don’t take it from me, listen to what God has to say about our tongue.
Throughout the book of James, God tells us that the tongue is small but powerful, and needs to be tamed. James devotes the major part of an entire chapter to the tongue!
James 3:5, “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
“It only takes a spark to get a fire going…” is one of my all-time favorite camp songs. However, living in Southern California long enough, with the dry weather and a little amount of rain, I have encountered a scary season, ” fire season!” It is a fact of life in Southern California. I have driven through smoke clouds with ashes falling on my windshield to the point of having to use my windshield wipers. I have watched the news closely to see how close the fire is coming to where we live. Praise God it is never threatened our home, but it has threatened the homes and cabins of many people we know and love. Not once have I heard a news reporter share that the fire was started with anything great or big. No, it was started by a single match, the embers left over from a campfire, a careless cigarette thrown out of a car window and so forth.
A tiny spark set hundreds of acres a blaze causing millions of dollars in damage, hundreds of homes lost, families displaced and even killed.
This is the image that James likens our tongue to! At the time James is writing this to us, there are no well trained fireman, with water hoses, chemicals to pour onto the fire, and planes to drop chemicals on top of the fire! No, in his day, a fire usually destroyed everything in its path. Much of the time it was left to run its course. They were simply unable to put it out until it burned itself out. No wonder James tells us to tame our tongue! He goes on to say that with it we have the power to “bless or curse!” My paraphrase….”to build up or tear down!”
James 3:9-10, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, (My Sisters), this should not be so.”
Words are powerful my friends. They are WONDERFUL when spoken in love! They bring sunshine to a cloudy day, they put smiles on faces, they make us feel beautiful, worthy, and loved. They can give us wings to soar, to step out of our comfort zone, and take chances we never would take on our own without them. I wouldn’t be writing this blog without the written and spoken words of encouragement, love, belief, and support spoken to me by my loved ones! I keep every card given to me, because they hold inside of them the words from those who love me. On difficult days I read them and I am reminded that someone loves me and believes in me. I read them on good days too, and I am inspired to keep on keeping on!
As much as those cards and words mean to me from my loved ones, they pale in comparison to the love letter my God has written to me! He wrote it to you too! He tells me I am the apple of his eye. He tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He tells me that he loved me so much, that I matter to him so much, that He sent his son to die for me. Let these Truths sink in deep, let them touch your heart. Those are the words I choose to hang onto. Those are the words I choose to believe. Those are the words I choose to live by, because those are the words of Truth!
Your tongue can be used to bless or to curse, with every word you speak, you choose one or the other.
We have a powerful tool in our tongue! With it we have the power to encourage and build others up, or hurt and tear others down. Let’s commit to taming our tongue, to allowing God to use us to speak words of love, support, and encouragement to others. Let’s ask Him to help us keep our mouths shut before we stick our feet in them and cause hurt or damage to another.
If we can set an entire forest on fire with this tongue of ours, just imagine the good we can do with it!
God calls us to tame it. He gave it to us for a reason-to share his great love with others! Do others know Him by the words you say? Do others know Him by the words I say? I desperately want them to!
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”- Proverbs 12:18!
Next week, get ready to ENJOY! God loves it when we do!
Speak Truth Love