The Beauty of Words
“She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26 NASB
As a writer, I love words. I love that individually, words typically do not hold much grandeur, but, when woven together carefully like an intricate piece of tapestry, they become meaningful and powerful.
I marvel at how words can come together in simile and metaphor, allusion and rhyme, and paint a portrait for the reader or for the listener. Words can transport us to another place and time; weaving a story that demands us to use all of our five senses.
The perfect sequence of words can help us:
- see the azure color of the sky
- smell the rainstorm before it arrives
- taste the freshly baked bread dripping with butter
- feel the shards of broken glass
- and hear the song that lulls the baby to sleep
As much as I love the beauty of words, I know that there is an uglier side to them. Words can bless or they can curse; they can hurt and they can heal.
We have been given this tremendous gift of language from our Heavenly Father, but, we have also been given a warning:
“Oh be careful little mouth what you say!”
Words Can Hurt
I was bullied quite a bit when I was growing up. It is amazing, as I look back in time, just how cruel little girls can be. Words can wound and leave indelible marks on your heart. I remember thinking that it would be easier if they would just physically hit me. The bruises would heal; but this is not true when you are struck down with words.
Words can shape and distort our perception of who we are. After awhile, the bad things become easier to believe. My self-worth and self-identity took a beating in those years. It took a long, long time for me to recover.
Whoever said, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me.” did not live as a middle school female. It’s rough out there for us girls. As someone who had experienced it, it was also difficult for me to have to watch my daughters go through some of these issues as well.
By the grace of God, they never experienced what I endured.
Growing Up With Hurtful Words
I also grew up in a home where the words spoken were, more often than not, negative.
Although there was love in my house, there was an equal amount of anger and impatience; manifested by unkind words. Times when I needed lifted up, I felt let down. Times when I need reassurance, I was given only criticism. Times when I needed hope, I heard only pessimism.
In my house the expression of honest feelings was not welcomed. “Let’s not talk about it.” was the mantra that permeated every situation in our lives. Perhaps that is why I turned to writing. The pen and the notebook never dared silence me; on the contrary, they would often call my name and beckon me to them.
The Words I Wish I Could Take Back
How many of us have said, “When I grow up I will never be like my mother?” Well, I am raising my hand because I said it all the time. I swore to myself that when I had children of my own, I would do everything different. I would NEVER speak to them the way that she spoke to me. I would NEVER say anything that would make them feel unworthy or not good enough.
As a mother of two beautiful daughters, sure enough, the thing I promised myself I would never do, I found myself doing. Oh! How I wish I could go back and unsay the things I spoke to them out of exhaustion, frustration and anger. Oh! How I pray that now that they are grown, they remember the mom that I became as I grew in my relationship with the Lord and not the mother that spoke out of anger; not out of the heart when they were small.
I also found that many times the words I was speaking to my husband were not edifying him or our relationship. I should have been using words that encouraged; words that were a reflection of my heart. Instead, my words were like swarms of hornets out of my mouth; stinging him in deep places where hurts linger and are hard to forget.
The Tongue Is a Weapon
James said it so well in his third chapter:
“Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.” James 3:3-5
Such a small body part is the tongue, but so powerful. And, as the tongue goes, the rest of the body goes also.
If you are struggling with how to speak to your children and/or your husband, I want to encourage you that there are many passages in the Bible that address this. It would seem that our Creator knew that this was going to be an issue for us during our walk through the human experience.
He’s such a good and faith Father!
Recognize These Important Things
Whenever we are dealing with an issue that the Holy Spirit is urging us to resolve, it is important to be honest with ourselves. Here are four things to admit when it comes to how we speak.
- We have a problem with how we speak to our loved ones and it needs to be fixed
- We have a loving God who has provided us with the prescription for what is ailing us in the Word.
- It is never too late to change.
- We have an advocate in the Holy Spirit who will help us to close our mouths when they desire to be open.
6 Scriptures to Help You to Tame Your Tongue
“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.” James 3:8 ESV
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue. And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 ESV
“Set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 ESV
“For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 ESV
“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12: 18 ESV
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight.” Psalm 19:14 ESV
I pray that you will find these scriptures helpful if you find yourself speaking in anger, in gossip, in lies, in hurt, in exhaustion, or in any other way that is not from God.
I love words. And the best words are found in the WORD.
Be blessed as you allow God to help you in what you say and how you say it,
Susie O’Neal and the Help Club for Moms Team