These words have been rolling around in my head the last few weeks. I heard them in a song, I read them in someone else's blog post, I have had them on my heart.
Words are an enormous part of our lives. We communicate, we explain, we express, and we read words all day, every day.
We read people's blogs and posts on Facebook or Twitter and form opinions about them based on what they say and how they say it. We send quick texts to friends and family, or we actually dial and talk. We let what other people say to and about us determine our worth or moods.
I spend the majority of the day using my words to give direction and explanation to my kids (both at school and at home). When I come home in the evenings, I'm finding that I crave silence a little more than I used to. It's almost like I've used my daily allotment of words and I have nothing left to offer.
But, I'm feeling more and more challenged by the words that I say. The words that I use. The words that I share.
And, sometimes, my words aren't very nice.
All too often we choose to use words that are not kind. Words that destroy hearts and relationships and egos. Words that are full of gossip and uneducated opinions. Words that are lies or half-truths. Words that are selfish. Words that are angry and fly out our mouths in a fit of rage.
And I'm finding that my mouth is going to get me into trouble faster than anything else. It's my primary weakness. Other people may have issues with other things and temptations and struggles (and I've got plenty of other issues as well), but the words I choose to use are often at the top of my shameful moments list.
I tend to say what I'm thinking, without considering the short and long-term consequences. I'm quick to fire off a sarcastic reply when someone says something rude to me. I let my judgmental thoughts escape when I'm watching reality television or the news or passing people on the street. I say the thoughts in my head without letting them marinate into a nicer sentence. I've lied when I've wanted to cover my mistakes or to save someone's feelings. I've said hurtful things back to and about people when they've hurt me. I'm often quick to insult and slow to compliment.
But more, and more, I'm wondering how in the world my words translate speaking Life into those situations. I know that I can speak all day of the great Love that has rescued me, and then ruin it all by opening my mouth. It's not who I want to be. It's not how I want to be remembered.
The worst part about words is that they cannot be taken back. There are times when apologies will be accepted, people will be forgiven, but even in some of those situations, the words will not be erased. Once they are out there, they are out there for the world to see and hear and remember. I replay tons of conversations in my head--things I've said, things that were said to me, things I wish I had said instead of what actually happened. Words that have spoken life, but not at all the Life I want to share.
Do I want my girls (and doesn't it seem like girls are the worst about using our words for harm?) to learn my ways of speaking? Do I want them to speak that way to others?
So, I'm working on my words--and it's a daily challenge. My words on my blog are pretty much always what I want to say--but I also have time to edit and erase and rewrite before I post. I don't have that luxury with real-time conversations. I've got to get into the habit of speaking Life in my daily walk, rather than letting my mind get the best of me. I know that when I speak love to my girls and to my husband, when I speak encouragements to my friends, when I choose words of Grace over the easy words of anger I feel better about my days. I know how blessed I am when people speak Life into me--it completely changes my mood and outlook on the situation.
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
Proverbs 21:23 ESV