|artwork ©Korin Sutherland - used with permission/ Sweet N' Sassy Stamps|
They seem to have a mind of their own, don't they?
When someone is sweet to us, it's easy to speak kindness back to them, to flatter, to fawn... but let someone say something that rubs us the wrong way and BAM! We let them have it.
I mean, they were the ones in the wrong, right? I have a right to defend myself, don't I?
There is so much more power in our words than what we realize....in one breath we have the power to encourage and uplift...or we are able to tear down and totally destroy.
Our words and how we speak them have the power of life and death in them. (Proverbs 18:21)
And I'm speaking from personal experience, both on the receiving AND giving end.
Holding my tongue is one of my biggest struggles and I am finding I have to work every day at choosing my words more carefully.
My story might not be so different from many of you who are reading this.
I came from a rough background and some of those in my life have majorly hurt me.
I grew up with the lesson of 'one upping' those who did you wrong.
I was taught at an early age to stand and fight, to speak my mind, and to never let anyone get the 'better'of me.
Many of these lessons came from being in survival mode in a turbulent household where verbal and physical abuse was the norm.
And I grew up without the safety, support, and protection of (and from) my parents.
Now, I could blame my actions on all of that and for a good long while, I did...but the truth is, I am solely responsible for what I say and do.
And still.....sometimes I do not choose wisely.
Our mouths (specifically our tongues)...and the words we speak are SO hard to keep under control, but when we do, we will often find that there is power in the SILENCE.
Keeping quiet (and forgiving) when someone offends you is not easy to do, but it can be the difference of a relationship restored or destroyed beyond redemption. It can be the difference of living a life in peace or turmoil. It can bring about healing of hearts or destruction of lives.
Like my friend, Korin, has shown in her beautiful artwork above, the world is eager to not only push us to our limits, but to chide us into shouting out against it. Everywhere you turn there is a new anti-this-or-that group forming. Everyone is screaming to be heard and to demand their 'rights' and while some of it is toward a good cause, a lot of it is coming from a world that is hurting and desperate for someone to make them feel loved (much like I did growing up as a scared child into an angry teen and young adult) and in desperate need of a Savior.
God knew we would run into trouble with our mouths and there are at least 27 verses to be found in His Word on holding our tongue and the consequences when we don't. I can tell you first hand, that I have felt many of these consequences and that is why I am writing this...as a loving warning if you struggle in this area, too.
Recently, out of hurt and anger, I let harsh words that fell on the wrong ears, fly.
I thought I was speaking in confidence to a long time "friend" and the words I spoke had truth to them, but were not spoken with kindness or in love (which means they should NOT have been spoken at all). This conversation that I thought would stay with the listener, traveled from her mouth to several others' ears, and eventually to the person I had complained about.
A conversation in perceived confidence turned into a small town gossip fest.
What could have - and SHOULD HAVE - been kept to myself and given up to God to work out for my - and the offending person's - good...went through a total of 7 people before it got to the one I had the issue with and in the end, put people in the position of feeling like they needed to choose 'sides' and hurt me and the offender in a way that severed our relationship altogether.
THAT is the destructive power of words, my friends.
That is a lesson, I do NOT want you to have to live out before you learn from it.
God is working on my heart in this area right now. He is healing my deep seeded childhood wounds and bringing this child of God under submission - with firmness, authority, and comfort for this weary soul - as a loving Father would.
If you pray, could you please add me to your prayer list - for God to convict me as many times as necessary to bring about control over my tongue?
And if this is something you struggle with, too...let me know in the comments below so I can pray over this area in your life, too.
Maybe you'll consider joining me as I participate in the 30-Day Power of Word Challenge over on Revive Our Hearts. I am listening my way through each day's The Power of Words program from ROH and maybe you'll find it an encouragement, as well. Here is Day 1 of the program (link at the bottom of that page for day 2 and so forth).
I am working toward becoming a woman of few, meaningful words and learning to guard my heart (and mouth) so I no longer sin against God or others. It's not easy, but with the Holy Spirit's help, I know it IS possible.
Relationships are hard and often times we become hurt by little offenses made in ignorance. Help me to hold my tongue and bring my hurt to You in prayer instead of opening my mouth and causing strife. Help to remind me that You are in control and that I need to allow the Holy Spirit room to move so I can learn to graciously handle conflict and overlook offenses. I want to be a woman after Your heart, Lord. Forgive me the damage I have done and thank you for your patience and mercy in my mistakes.
In Your Holy Name I pray Amen.