Have you ever spoken words that you wished you could take back? Words that you knew were not life giving and would cause someone else pain?
A few months before we lost Ben one of his doctors asked him whether he was being taken care of at home. Ben replied, “no, there is no one to take care of me.” We were at a clinic in Mexico where I had just spent weeks learning his treatment plan and how to best help him follow it on our return to the states. Emotions were running high. I sent him into his next treatment and poured out my heart in tears to some new friends, who were also in Mexico for treatment.
Deep down, I knew that he didn’t mean what he was saying, but there were times during that last year when he would forget that I was right there beside him through the whole process. These new friends reminded me that the way he looked at me and the way that he talked about how much he loved me meant so much more than the words that he hastily spoke. All he could remember in that moment was how difficult it was to be in this new place when he didn’t always remember he was sick.
Those new friends spoke life into me at a moment when I needed it most. They said sometimes words are spoken in haste, but his actions over a dozen years were so much more important to remember. Their words spoke life into my very broken heart and gave me the strength to continue through such a difficult time.
After I lost Ben, I felt completely alone. And I found myself trusting God in a way I never had before. I ended up with a brand-new circle of friends. People who poured life and affirmations into me when I felt like I couldn’t go on anymore. They encouraged me when I felt like I was failing as a parent. And built me up when nothing in my world seemed to be going right without him. Those friends became my closest confidants, my kindred spirits, my reminders that I could do hard things. They still remind me that no matter how alone I feel, I am not really. And I know that God sent them into my life when I needed them most.
Words Can Heal or Hurt
Our words have the power to heal or to hurt. They have the power to speak life into others or bring lasting pain. Proverbs 12:18 says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” I am so thankful for those close friends who pour life into my words of affirmation heart. I am reminded that I am chosen, worthy, and loved, regardless of all my shortcomings. One of my strongest desires in life is to grow to be more like them every day.
I really thought that I understood how much words can hurt and how to use them wisely. But a few weeks ago, someone told me that I am unkind in my words. They gave me enough grace to say that they thought maybe my unkindness was unintentional, but it was there nonetheless. And while I may sincerely apologize, that maybe I speak more words in haste then I realize. It was truly like another dagger to the heart. I would never want others to feel that I am unkind, intentionally or not.
I have spent a lot of time contemplating those words and the friendship that they ended. They cannot be taken back, but they have been a reminder to me of how human I am. I believe God sends people into our lives to show us our weaknesses so that we can grow and learn. So I have taken the last few weeks to pray and think about what they said.
- Sidenote: It is important to determine whether what someone says is spoken from a place of truth or a place of hurt. And I have really struggled with this one. Because it was spoken by someone who I thought saw the good in me despite all my shortcomings.
That said, I am not perfect and am the first to admit that I fail every single day. I fail at relationships, friendships and especially at parenting more than I want to admit. The realization of all these failures makes me so much more thankful that the forgiveness of God does not come with fear or lasting anxiety. When He forgives, past sins do not continue to be held over us the way they are on earth. That forgiveness is seasoned with grace that surpasses anything we could imagine.
Allow Yourself to Grow
So here I am, weeks later, continuing to let those words resonate with me. And praying that the Lord will continue to grow me to a place where my words can be life giving and encourage others rather than tear them down. And these are the verses that have been on repeat:
- Psalm 34:13- “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.”
- Psalm 141:3- “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
- Proverbs 10:19- “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (the NLT translation of this one says, “Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
So I pray the Lord will help me to guard my tongue and keep it from evil; that He will remind me when to keep my mouth shut and when to speak; and that I will use my words to build others up. I know how much our words have the power to heal or harm. And I really do pray that my words will truly be healing.
I thank the Lord for giving me the grace to forget most of what is said to me in hurt. Loss has truly made me able to forget things that initially caused pain (or maybe it’s just widow brain). My prayer is that I am able to give the grace that the Lord has shown to me to others. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
What about you? Do you have trouble with words? Do you find yourself asking for forgiveness and grace a lot? Or are you one of the lucky few who remembers to think before they speak?