“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
We’ve all heard the familiar phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Perhaps you chanted those words to a school yard bully, or heard them yelled menacingly at you, way “back in the day.” Actual research substantiates the fact that words DO, in fact cause harm, emotionally, and even physically.
Words are powerful and can stick with you for a very long time! They can harm or help, curse or bless. Ugly words are destructive, but beautiful words encourage those who hear them! Think about this for a moment: what are some words that engender a blissful sigh, or an energized, lighthearted feeling, when spoken? “Heaven” is one! What about “sunny,” or “joyful?” Some of my favorite words are “blessings,” “potential,” “hope,” and here’s one I love…”mercy!”
It has been said that a word is like a living organism, capable of growing, changing, spreading, and influencing the world in many ways, directly and indirectly, long after the moment of utterance. Just one word can “take on a life of its own,” projecting a meaning far different, for far longer, than was ever intended by the speaker! I can think of words I heard years ago that, to this day, cause me to remember the exact way I felt at the time I heard them!
Words are so impactful because they are attached to emotions. Feelings are intensified and reinforced with the words we hear or speak! Think about it: one painful word has the power to transport us back in time, conjure up buried images, and open wounds years later!
There is power in the tongue. God’s Word gives us many warnings to illustrate this concept. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in power of the tongue.” What a sobering admonition! It seems incredible that as a wife and mother, my words possess such power! They can shape and influence the lives of the ones I love the most…those living within the four walls of my home!
What if, during the course of a day, every word you spoke was recorded and played back to you? Would you like what you heard? Would you be ashamed for someone other than a family member to hear it?
I will confess there have been times when I would not have wanted my words to be broadcast for my family, or anyone else to hear! If that had happened, I might have even been tempted to argue, “No, no, I didn’t really say that!” Words are like arrows. Once uttered, they are shot into the air never to be retrieved! The damage is done. No amount of wishing or begging can make it as if those words had never been spoken!
Words are very important to God, so much so that He condemns “idle” words, Christ said, in Matt. 12:36, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Words enhance communication, however, and Psalm 141:3 instructs us to “set a watch” over our lips, bringing our tongue under the control of the Holy Spirit.
Here are some practical tips on how to use our words to help and bless others. The first and obvious warning is that we should Speak Thoughtfully. “Think before you speak!” How many moms have drilled this familiar phrase into the minds of squabbling children, only to turn around, themselves, and utter a cutting remark about a friend or relative? It is far too easy to see the “mote in our brother’s eye” than to identify the huge beam sticking out of our own eye, is it not? (Matt. 7:3-5)
James 3:6 says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…” It is our sinful nature that causes us to pass judgment, and literally “tear down” other people with our tongue. Pride is the motivation for gossip: we want to make ourselves look better by highlighting the faults of others! We have all done it, and if we are honest, we will admit it! Gossip is ungodly, can be habitual, and is literally, the devil’s work! It is demeaning, and depressing! If what we say is not edifying, we should just keep our mouths shut! (Blunt, but oh, so true!) Seek a higher plane of life than to use your words to engage in such destructive, carnal behavior!
Listening should involve at least half of every conversation. Have you ever found yourself not really listening, but instead planning your next discourse, ready to interject yourself when the other person pauses to take a breath? Listening is a gift we give to others. To be a good listener is to be unselfish and compassionate.
Another important part of conversation is that of Reserving Judgement. Oh, how easy it can be to make snap decisions or pass judgment on someone who does things differently than we do. It is so much easier to be critical, than to offer real solutions to problems. Just because we happen to have an “opinion” does not mean we are right! We all need individuals in our lives who will listen with a true desire to help and encourage! A friend like this is a treasure!
The Bible says in Eph. 4:15, we should “Speak the truth in love.” Honesty is important in regards to the use of words. We should speak with integrity, not using flattering words for self-serving purposes. (Note Proverbs 29:5) We should remember it is not necessary or helpful to utter everything that enters our head! Discernment to know how to apply this principle is a spiritual discipline worth pursuing.
Words can bless and encourage, inspiring trust in our home and relationships. The “tone” with which we use our words can be far more lasting than the actual words themselves! Every female knows what I mean when I talk about words being engulfed in “emotional noise!” Here’s an example: “You know I love you!” a man shouts angrily to his wife as he slams the door! At times like that, the negative, emotional overload resonates far more than the actual words!
Yelling, angry, or impatient voices derail any positive message someone may be trying to convey. May God help us to be careful about the tone and volume level we use. Having ourselves under control as moms and wives is the key to speaking loving, encouraging words.
May we use simple words, spoken sincerely, to bless our husband. “I love being your wife! I am so thankful for you! I respect you for making hard decisions. Thank you for working so hard to provide for our family. We need your wisdom and common sense…” (Saying these words with your children present adds even greater value!)
Being a mom is a busy, demanding life! Managing a household, training and homeschooling children, the list of needs and responsibilities seems endless! While none of these tasks can be accomplished without determination and old fashioned hard work, I caution you to guard your heart, dear mother! Amid your blessings, your moods can sour and the atmosphere in your home can become joyless! Every single day of your life you are making memories with your children! Will those memories be positive or negative? In every situation, seek out the blessings, however small. Life is a “journey.” Be thankful and learn to enjoy the “trip!”
Work to incorporate more good words and edifying thoughts into your mothering! You are your child’s authority and while I am NOT advocating adopting a “Push-over, Pampering Posture,” I do believe many times moms who yell or get “ticked off” easily, reacting rudely or impulsively to their kids, are encouraging them to mirror these same behaviors! Speak firmly but respectfully to your children, if you expect them to maintain a respectful tone toward others.
Be challenged to take inventory of the situations which precipitate your angry, impatient, or out-of-control responses! Typically, these reactions arise because a parent is not consistent, or has not trained the child well in the first place, explaining expectations and consequences. The rules change without warning, and then the child decides to “test the limits.” Meanwhile, a preoccupied or distracted mother “loses it!” Problems like these are serious, and left unchanged, will likely result in you losing your children in the years to come! I advise you to humble yourself and seek the help you need, before it’s too late!
Many times the words we speak to ourselves are often the most defeating and negative of all! We may not like to admit it, but whether out loud or inwardly, we all “talk” to ourselves! It is natural to think about and analyze the circumstances of life. Psychologists call this common human trait, “self-talk,” but God calls the thoughts that go on in our head, “meditation.” “Psychosis,” in practical application, is a person believing everything he/she thinks! (Even to the point of “believing” those “voices” are real, and the individual must obey!) We must be selective about what thoughts we accept as TRUE, because we are all inclined to automatically believe every thought that enters our brain as if it were absolutely true! In reality, it may be the furthest thing from the truth!
For some, this can be a very negative exercise, fraught with depressing, faithless thoughts, such as “I’m no good. I don’t measure up. I’m not smart enough. I could never do (fill in the blank). God doesn’t love me as much as He loves so-and-so. Why didn’t God do ‘such and such?’ I don’t feel like I can trust Him. I really wonder if God will answer my prayer? Poor me! God isn’t meeting my needs!”
Meditation time invested this way does not reflect the will of God, and naturally takes us to a defeated state of mind. Philippians 4:8 clearly defines how we should think. Good or bad, the things that dominate our thinking actually possess self-fulfilling power. “As he thinketh in his heart so is he.” (Prov. 23:7) Do my thoughts reflect the fruits of the Spirit or the works of the flesh? Consider how effective we are to help others, be a good testimony and example, and have our prayers answered, when we allow our mind to be fearful, constantly doubting God’s Goodness and Character?
Where we choose to place our focus is the key to thinking right! It is God’s purpose for His creation to bring Him glory, but that cannot occur when we are self-focused. Almighty God created us to depend upon His strength to accomplish the things needed in our lives. “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” Phil 4:13
Whether I speak them to myself or others, my words carry a lot of meaning. As I remember the old adage, “Choose your words carefully for you may have to eat them,” I realize my best choice is to strive to fill my mind with His Words. They have the power to bring life and joy and healing to my soul…
“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Ps. 119:103