Christianity 201

August 27, 2013

When Words Sound Awkward

This is from the blog of Janelle Keith, where it appeared as When Clumsy Words Come.

Words can hurt

There are days when I can’t put words to the hurt.

“Dear God, please help me handle the clumsy words that will come my heart’s way. May I respond in gentle answers. Even when I don’t feel like it.”

I have been bruised by so many words by myself. Because I have been given a sensitive spirit to words, I wonder about those bruiser words we say and receive.

Who hasn’t been on the stinging end of an emotionally charged zinger? From ourselves to ourselves?

Backed by the truth only found in God’s word, I can put the negative self-talk in the corner to rest a bit. Oh yeah, every now and again it peeks out. But I am getting better at this.

It was the day that left me rubbing my eyes filled with tears and wondering, “What did I say that was wrong?” The day that I was blindsided by criticism…again. Man, criticism cuts so deep and lingers, bouncing it’s way in our hearts, and settles hard.

Why is that we have rolled out the red carpet for access to our hearts? All it takes is one harsh word to start an avalanche of an ocean of emotions. Just one…and it hangs out and has an after party too, wrecking and wreaking havoc on our wounded hearts. Just a little poison is all it takes.

Words that are harshly said, just hurt. When people are critical it pierces. And no matter who you are, or what you do or how much chocolate you have at your disposal, one little kiss of harsh tones combined with words said without grace only breeds poison. And it spreads like the plague. It can choke, stifle, and shut down the most pleasant conversations. And it kills us, we who have those creative spirits. It numbs and suffocates.

I really wish we could take a little love pill and make it all go away. When hurtful words hit, no matter the delivery, there is damage. Especially when the clumsy words are not said under the umbrella of grace, of God’s love and mercy. Whether you are the one doing the damage or the one receiving the damage, emotional repair is needed.

Words are powerful. They have the gift of life or death. The tongue is a mighty force to be reckoned with. God’s Word to me are a charge that every word should be wholesome.

Hey…did you know that purity should rule our speech too?  Love should guide our thoughts, grace should spill out of our mouths.

Ephesians 4:29 “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (NLT)  The NIV version uses “unwholesome”.  The Message says, “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

Say only what helps. Criticism doesn’t help. Pointing out failures doesn’t help. Correction, without love, is unkind.

Are your words pure? Only when you are in a good mood? Or when things go your way? Read those verses again…

Let each word be a gift. Our words should always be a gift. A gift to others and to yourself. Something to treasure, to hold with esteem, wrapping each syllable with love. God’s Love is something to give to others and ourselves, when we consider it a gift that we would a give to someone that we love.

A gift of love, so should our words be.

So about those words that just bust out of our mouths, the ones we blurt out in the car on the way to church, or when we have had a really bad day at the office, when we don’t feel loved or don’t love ourselves? I don’t think you need my help filling in these blanks…do you?

Lysa TerKeurst recently put this as her Facebook status ~ “Don’t let people’s compliments go to your head and don’t let their criticisms go to your heart.” Could it be that really our insecurities or inadequacies are speaking?

Whatever your word motives are, if you are using worthless language to anyone including yourself, then those words are not driven by love. I know those that unwholesomeness doesn’t build the body of Christ, it only destroys and tears. God has shown me that when you internalize the criticism you tend to say about yourself, you soon become the very criticism you are telling you.

In my search for Christ’s identity I have uncovered who I am not. I am ashamed to tell you that I had to do quite a bit of digging, to see God’s lovely inside of His wholesome. I found a few scarred places that are healing now. Nothing can tear my redeemed label up or apart because my wholesomeness is healing from God’s heart of approval.

Knowing Wholesome is what protects my heart from the criticism of others, including my own criticism of my own flaws, failures, and fabrications. My unwholesome rule has to apply to myself, like it does to you. I must not let self-criticism slice through my heart, spurred by negative or unhealthy thoughts. That kind of self-negative talk is contributing to the contamination of the perfecting work that God is doing on my holiness journey.

Don’t take part in the giving of unwholesome language. Your words matter…to God, to you, to others.

So what should our response be to those emotional charged zingers and clumsiness that spills and spews? Our response should be one said of holiness by acknowledging that we are all God’s workmanship in progress. By staying calm, using self-control and not lashing out in anger, it will add peace and not add fuel to the fire. There is no restoration in compounding the hurt with more hurt.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” Proverbs 15:1-2

When practiced, the fruit of the Spirit can be such a calming gift love. A gift of words.

A gift.

Let your words be a gift to yourself and to others. How do you handle people who hurt you with words?