I have this habit, I tend to speak without thinking through my words first. Sometimes it’s funny and we all have a laugh about the ridiculous thing I said. I like to ease tension with humour. I feel that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously. However, a few weeks ago I hurt someone because I did not think my words through. In my ignorance, I made a comment to “make light” of stereotypes, but it was not received that way. It doesn’t matter where my intent lies and ignorance is no excuse, what matters is that I really hurt someone. I apologized to them face-to-face, however, the feeling that I have hurt someone with my words does not go away so quickly. I realized that instead of easing tension, I created it.
I’ve had the weekend to mull over what I have done and during my weekly phone-call home, I told my wise mother what happened. She assured me that she has done similar things. And well, my dad is no angel either. Us Canns can be completely oblivious with our words. And you would think that we would know better, you know with that Bible verse and all…
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Proverbs 15:1-2 Yeah…that one…Sure, I’ve memorized it, but living it is a different story. Sometimes you have to learn a very hard lesson for it to stick with you.
I’ve read James 3, You know, Taming the Tongue section of the Bible. “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (verse 5), but I’ve never fully understood it. I think after hurting someone so deeply, I have a grasp of what this verse really means. The tongue is a powerful thing. James tells us all about it in James 3. James talks about how we can control a horse by placing a small bit in its mouth, and an entire ship is directed by the tiny rudder! Just like how the tongue, even though it is so small a thing, it can bring life with encouraging words or death with destructive words.
Wise King Solomon reminds us “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23…wish I had known that. My foolish words got me into trouble.
James says “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue.” And I love when he just lays it out by saying “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” James 2:7-11. James is saying that It doesn’t make sense that with one breath we can praise God and with another we can completely tear down someone. In this case, the hurt was not intended, but there are times when I am intentionally hurtful with my words and that is not right!
I learned that in the Solomon Islands, when the islanders want to move a tree but it is too big to chop down they curse it and in 30 days the tree dies. Wowzers! Now, there are some that believe that the tree dies for other reasons within the 30 days, but I do think that words are that powerful. When you think about words in your daily life. I know for me I hear the negative comment even if I got a positive comment. It takes about 10 encouraging words to match one negative comment. It takes longer to build up than to tear down.
I hope that it does not come across that I am making light of the hurt that I caused. I only jest because I feel terrible and I don’t like that feeling. My apology was accepted, and I only hope that we can work through this and become closer. If by any chance, the one that I hurt is reading this now, if there is still unresolved hurt feelings please come talk to me. If you feel the need to yell at me (I may cry because I don’t like being yelled at) or cry it out, or even if you just want to talk, I will sit and listen. I would hate for my careless words to ruin a new friendship. You are a wonderful, caring person, and I am so sorry that I hurt you!
I hope that through this I will learn to think about my words before I say them. Ok, so I know I can’t change my habit all together, because let’s face it, my mouth will always get away from my brain, but I do hope that when it comes to things that truly matter, I will keep my mouth shut!
Speak Life, not death!
On a side, but related note. I just took Disney.com‘s ‘Who is Your Disney Spirit Animal?’ quiz and my result was: “Your Disney Spirit Animal is Tigger the Tiger! You’re one of a kind and always on the go-go-go! Hyperactivity is your specialty, and you can see the humour in any situation.” Sounds just like me. Unfortunately, seeing the humour in some things can get me into trouble, but if I learn to think before I speak then I should be ok.