This was the note that was left on my kitchen counter this morning:
“An atom is a tiny particle you cannot see with your eye. He is going to tell you something funny enough to make you laugh.
(in a different color this was written) Dear Mommy I am going to take that pill to shcool agian ok thank. by. Love you. Love Katie.”
If you can get through that, you probably know how powerful words can be. I was so confused by the first two sentences, but I realized that we had worked on Katie’s spelling words this morning. The one part I had forgotten to go over with her was her spelling sentences (hence the first two sentences of my note). She had obviously made the decision to do it herself. The second part of the letter is in reference to her vitamins that she takes to school with her – she is supposed to take them at lunch time. She remembered them and wanted to let me know she packed them.
Her note melted my heart because I could see that for the first time, Katie was taking responsibility over things that needed to be done in the morning. She was FINALLY becoming a “big girl.” Even though I had to dig through her message to see that, it was evident to me (as her mom) that she was trying her best to make sure she was completely packed and ready for school.
Words are so funny. When I write my blog, I have to read and reread and read again to make sure I haven’t said something that people might misunderstand. Even when I do this, I inevitably have someone who sees through my words a deeper meaning than I intended. Sometimes that is good, and sometimes that is bad. I constantly tell myself that God has revealed Himself in my message and how people choose to see it will be different with each individual.
In my lifetime, I have seen words used to hurt others and words used to lift up others. Words are powerful. We can use words to trap people. We can use words to get to know people. We can use words to judge people. We can use words to pray. We can use words to preach. We can use words to insult. We can use words sarcastically. So many ways…
2 Samuel 23:2 The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.
James 3:8-11 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
2 Samuel shows us that when we use our words with the Holy Spirit guiding us, our words can be powerful – in a Godly way. James tells us when we allow evil and sin in our life, our tongue can become problematic.
When I was in the midst of a miscarriage for our fourth child, I called the doctor immediately. I had never miscarried before so I wasn’t sure what my body was telling me – but I knew something was wrong. I picked up the phone that Sunday afternoon and called my doctor’s office. Because it was a weekend, I talked with the doctor on call. I don’t know what was going on in his life that Sunday, but it was quite obvious that he did not have time to talk to me. In the first few minutes our conversation went like this…
“What seems to be the problem, maam?”
“I am bleeding. I am in my first trimester of pregnancy – this is my 4th child.”
“How old are you?”
“Well, I am sorry to say there is nothing we can do, you are miscarrying the baby.”
“Sorry, but you will just have to let it happen. “
“How long will that be?”
“Not sure, it can take weeks sometimes to miscarry. The fact is your pregnancy is susceptible to a miscarriage simply because of your age.”
That was the end of our conversation. I was overwhelmed with sadness of losing my baby. I was overwhelmed that no help was offered. I was angry that he didn’t even tell me to see a doctor. I was upset that this pregnancy was going to go on for weeks – morning sickness and all – even though my baby was dying inside of me. It was hurtful. His words did not help me.
Powerful words. The doctor chose to use his medical language instead of his personal language. He decided to give me statistics instead of support. It was hurtful.
I am not just blaming doctors – I do it too. I choose words without asking for God’s guidance. I use my words to insult and hurt. I also use my words to preach and share God’s message. Just like James says, we use our tongues in two opposite ways. This Advent season, I am really trying to watch what I say and pray before I say it.
The other night we were all celebrating Katie’s 9th birthday. Earlier in the day, we had gone to church. Because we were attending the 12:30 service that day, Pete called the kids up around 11am and told them to make lunch. TJ heard Pete say to make a snack, so he heated himself up a little snack which looked like lunch to all of us (he is a 13 year old boy with a big appetite). Anyway, after church we went to my mom’s, and we were there for a couple of hours. Around 3pm, TJ asked what was for lunch? It became a joke because we all swore we saw him eating lunch. We teased him all through Katie’s birthday dinner.
TJ became very angry. He finally told us that he really was tired of the talking. He was visibly upset and hurt. The teasing was too much. My kids do not like to be teased, and the problem is Pete and I both grew up with teasing (just joking around stuff) – we didn’t realize how much it hurt him. I apologized to TJ and told him we would not talk about it again. Thinking back on my own life, I realized I didn’t really like the teasing either – especially when I was the one being teased.
Powerful words. Think before you speak.
This is why everytime I prepare a talk, a blog or write a book; I make sure that I look at my words in all directions. I have several people read over my words to get different perspectives. Words can insult and hurt without us even knowing it. We might think it is funny, but others may not. Pray for God’s guidance. If the words that are about to come out of your mouth do not sound like something
Jesus would say, you probably shouldn’t say them – without a lot of prayer first.
Powerful words. Pray before you utter anything.