An Invisible Weapon
As a child I remember hearing the saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.
The problem is, words can hurt.
They can leave scars no one can see.
Unlike sticks and stones, the damage done won’t leave visible bruising to the body; Neighbors, friends, family, and teachers won’t see the injuries.
That doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there.
It doesn’t mean the wounds aren’t real.
Words are the invisible weapon that can do lifelong damage and never heal.
It is not what goes into the mouth the defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. –Matthew 15:11
I’m Going to Be Real With You
My children have these unseen injuries, and I’m the one who caused them.
How’s that for real?
I can try to rationalize the circumstances when I used words as weapons against the little people God has entrusted me with; it won’t make a bit of difference.
The fact is, I made HUGE mistakes.
I spoke in anger and frustration instead of love and respect.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. –Proverbs 18:21
My tone caused as much damage (if not more) than the words I used. Maybe I could pat myself on the back and say, “Well, I’ve never called them names.” That means nothing when I know I’ve bruised and battered them with words of indifference.
Instead of praising them for their imaginations and efforts, I’ve asked, “Why would you do that?” Instead of saying, “Thank you for trying to help”; it’s been, “Look what you’ve done.”
These words have hurt them time and time again.
Realizing this now, tears at my heart. I’m bleeding from each of the wounds I caused my children.
I swore I would never treat my children the way my siblings and I were treated when we were growing up. I swore my kids would never have a reason to question whether they are loved.
Yet, here I am.
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perversness in it breaks the spirit. –Proverbs 15:4
When my children acted out, I wondered what was causing them to misbehave. I never stopped to consider it could have been my actions and reactions leading to their outbursts. That my words, said in frustration, anger, or disinterest, might have led them to lash out in search of some sort of control.
This family the LORD has blessed me with deserves more than that.
I Can Change
My children will not grow up questioning my love, or remembering only the harshly spoken words.
I will not be the reason their self-esteem suffers, or they turn away from God and family. I will not push them away with my own actions.
Our Heavenly Father knows my sins. He knows my heart, and my weaknesses. He trusted me to raise these children, and I will do my best, and when I stumble I’ll turn to Him.
I will control my words–both the words themselves, and the tone of my voice. I will focus on praise; on building up my children into strong, mature, loving, adults. I will do my best to let them spread their wings, to make mistakes, to be helpful, to explore life, and be the people God created them to be.
Most of All, I Will Pray
I’ll pray for guidance.
I’ll pray for a kind tone and a joyful spirit.
I’ll pray for a million questions from my three-year old, so that I may show him through actions and words that he matters.
I’ll pray for my daughter to try new things–even when they involve me sitting back and ignoring the mess, because I want her to see as well as hear how proud I am of her, and how much I believe in her.
Finally, I’ll pray for each and every one of you who have faced these same problems. Those who have hurt their friends, families, and loved-ones with weapons so powerful they can damage people indefinitely.
I pray today that you help each of us control our tongues. That we may build one another up in this world. That we use our words to soothe and encourage, not to draw blood. Give us pause when we speak, that our children will not be a casualty of our sinful ways.
If you feel led, please share this post so it may remind others they’re not alone in their struggles with the words we use.