Most of us have had hurtful things said to us. I have. Have you? The tongue leaves a lasting impression on someone’s spirit and heart. It’s true.
My friend’s husband nicked named me dummy. When I would walk into the house, he would say “hello dummy.” I’m not sure how it started, but what hurt was when his children started to call me dummy too. The children stopped, and I’m not sure why. And their father stopped only because I moved to California. I felt ashamed when he called me dummy, and I was an adult! But think about a young boy or girl who is called stupid by his parents or teachers so frequently until others began to also call him or her by the same name. By the end of the day, he or she believes they are stupid, and wonders, “Am I known by any other name?” Though we can’t keep people from saying hurtful things, we can control how we respond.
For example, Jack says, “Don’t think about it man, just forget it!” Jack wants his friend Joe to forget the pain by letting it go and forgetting what was said. But is this a reasonable request? Can we forget when other hurt us with words? Joe chooses a different response, “ man I don’t want to forget because the words she said to me hurt me and came at a cost. I cared about her, and I need time to work through it.”
Another Saying of Old
You know the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
This saying comes at a cost for the lie it tells. Yes, sticks and stones are going to hurt us, maybe even break a bone or two. But to say words will never hurt us is a lie. We keep the words others say to us and about us in our hearts under lock and key. We never address the pain that comes like an arrow shot from a bow. Do you see the cost? The cost is what we believe about ourselves. The cost of forfeiting the truth is high.
A Real Life Example
I loved the movie “Mr. Church.” Susan McMartin wrote the screenplay for the movie, and it’s about her real-life friendship with a man who is hired to cook for a family of a mother and daughter. This man would become her best friend and father figure.
Mr. Church starred Eddie Murphy. He delivered superb acting to the screen.
Mr. Church came with many gifts and talents. He was a food connoisseur, an accomplished pianist, and had a passion for books. With these gifts and talents, Mr. Church influences a young girl’s mind and heart. All while nurturing a family through tough and difficult times.
Just as Mr. Church came with gifts and talents, he also came with memories that haunted him from life as a young adult. The young girl was always curious about Mr. Church. What did he do after he left her home? Where did he live? The young girl would not know about his darkness until she returned from college pregnant and had nowhere to live but with Mr. Church.
Saturday nights were Mr. Church’s night out. He would leave home but later come home drunk. One particular Saturday night was the worst she had witnessed. Mr. Church walked through the door arguing with someone you could not see. It seemed he had drunk more than usual. He stumbled, fell down and she helped him to bed. She hears more about his life as a young man, and it becomes clearer about who he is arguing with. The conversation is between Mr. Church and his father. You could hear the anger, hurt, and disappointment in his voice. You could hear the words that left an impression on the young Mr. Church’s heart and lasted into Mr. Church’s adult life.
I worked third shift at a hospital. There were several night-shift staff employees that gathered in the cafeteria for the lunch. We had a good time talking, laughing, and teasing
each other. We didn’t tear one another down, but the words that flowed from our mouths lacked grace and silence. But one morning as I was leaving to go home the Holy Spirit said: “You don’t sound like a lady when you curse.” It seemed an odd time for a divine intervention, but He had my attention. That morning was the beginning of a tremendous change in my life and in my speech. The Holy Spirit got my attention, and I’m thankful He is still my help in life.
There’s a Cheerios commercial that speaks to me on this subject. A man asks his wife if she is trying to lose weight because she is eating MultiGrain Cheerios. The wife says, no and he starts reading the contents of the ingredients. The wife asks, “What else does the box say, Steve? He says “The box said shut-up Steve.” The man is digging himself into a hole with his wife implying she needs to lose weight.
Like Steve, more often than not we just need to shut-up and be silent.
Writing about the tongue and how it leaves a lasting impression on one’s spirit and heart is convicting and challenging. But God is calling for change, which I will write more about this in the next article.
Meanwhile, let’s be diligent, persevering, and conscious about how we use our tongue. I don’t want to be known or remembered for the pain I caused by the words I used. Think about it. How do you want to be remembered?
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