I was mistreated. It happened while I was on the jam and jelly aisle looking for fig jam- it is fab-u-lous with brie cheese and crackers. So, there I was searching rows of jams and jellies, when around the corner swings a buggy full of groceries, pushed by two women in lively and quite audible conversation. I made eye contact with them and smiled as they passed by. When suddenly they hit me. It was a succession of f-bombs strung together with an assortment of curse words used with no shame nor recognition that these words were uttered in a public space. It was as if these gals were the only two people in the grocery store. Startled, I looked around for more victims. I spotted an older gentleman shuffling along seemingly unaware. I was unsettled and a bit put out by this verbal assault on my ears but managed to move on with my task. Unfortunately, these ladies seemed to be tracking along with me through the store. An aisle or two over we ran into a family with young children. Still, they carried on with their unrefined conversation without so much as a pause. Mortified, I gave this mom a sideways glance and apologetic smile. On my drive home, I ruminated on what it was about this incident that so offended me. Maybe I am much too sensitive? It is not as if I’ve never heard that kind of language or never used it. But I was bothered. A sharp chord had been struck. Words do matter. Courteous manners and thoughtfulness are not only important but necessary. And, the words we choose to use often convey more than we realize.
What do the words I use say about me? What about the way I speak those words? My poor word choices have created many a drama. My speech has at times unwittingly hurt feelings, caused embarrassment, angered, frustrated and sadly, created divisions. Delivery of my words, even if well-chosen, has caused untold scenes. My tone of voice is also relevant, especially in sensitive situations. There have been countless moments when I have stepped into it by being unintentional in my verbiage. Every time I’ve put my foot in my mouth, I have discovered how difficult it is to pull it out gracefully. How many hearts have I stepped? And, what about those I have upset because they were within earshot of my hurtful or course language? Perhaps I have not only offended them, but left them with an undesirable perception of me. And really, who could blame them?
I know, but often forget, as a wife and mother that my words have a huge impact on setting the tone in our family life and home. If it is love and patience I want to emphasize I must be particularly attuned to what is being said and how I choose to respond. This can be a burden, especially when I am tired; all used up and have little energy, let alone patience. But, the words that leave my mouth should as often as possible be phrases that uplift, praise and love. I need to pause before opening my mouth, and consider the value of what I am to say, in order that I not waste precious breaths uttering curses, condemnations or negativity. The world has more than enough of that! What is desperately needed is more light. We need more love, sincere hearts; not lip service. I am the first to admit the obstacles this presents. It forces me to face all my shortcomings, my glaring imperfections. It reveals my impatience, my quick temper. My hardness of heart which is so easily exposed with my thoughtlessness.
“She opens her mouth in wisdom, kindly instruction is on her tongue.”
I aspire to be this woman. I ought to be a woman who doesn’t let whatever comes to mind spill out of her mouth. I should be a wife who doesn’t criticize or emasculate my husband with harsh words or unnecessary corrections. And, I especially need to restrain my criticism of him in front of others. I desire to be a mother who gently reprimands while assuring my children of my love of them is never contingent upon their behavior. I want my speech to be gracious in order to welcome, encourage and positively influence all those I encounter. Maybe what I need is a smaller mouth and bigger ears! Or perhaps, I need discipline in keeping my mouth closed, leaving room to hear not only with my ears but also with my heart. How much more perceptive to others would I be if I resisted the urge to instantly reply or solve a problem? In order to be a woman who speaks graciously, I have to look at the state of my interior life. My speech is often a reflection of my relationship with Christ. When I am walking closely with Him the Holy Spirit is ever more present in me, in my thoughts and words. What is flowing through me and out of me is what matters. Come Holy Spirit. May my words be sincere, filled with His love, compassion and forgiveness that I may bless all those I encounter.
“I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will render an account for
every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”