I'll never forget. I was shopping in Target one day and got a phone call from my mom. She said that my grandpa, my only grandparent still living, only had a few months to live. I was so upset. I quickly left the store and cried and prayed all the way home, which was over an hour drive.
When I got back into town, I stopped at a local place to run an errand. I was greeted by someone who asked, "Hi, Lori! How are you today?" Well, I know we ask that question often without thinking or caring about how a person is really doing, as simply a formality, but I answered honestly, "Not very good. I just found out my grandpa is dying. This will be the third grandparent I've lost in just a few years time." Instead of hearing, "I'm so sorry! I will pray for you (or my family, my grandpa)," I heard a little laugh and then, "Well, pretty soon you won't have any left!"
Bam! That person said what I had been feeling, but made it 100% worse by just saying those words to me. I was shocked, no....I was STUNNED. How in the world could a fellow man/woman, a Christian, say something so hurtful to me at a time when I was hurting? And more than how...WHY? I still don't know and have never asked. I try to think that the person didn't mean it how it came out, but there really isn't any other way to take it! I've forgiven this person, but I will also say I know I'm not the only recipient of their hurtful, unthoughtful, careless words, often tactless throughout the years. I haven't shared the "who" behind my story, even though I've told it to a few people and am now sharing it with you.
The point of me telling you this story is this: Words hurt. They crush spirits. They ruin relationships, often before they ever start. We are having a growth moment in our house at this very moment, with one of our children learning a hard fact of life about how our words can wound.
Be careful with your words. There's a reason the book of James has so much to say about the tongue. It is very hard to control. In fact, the Bible says if we can control the tongue, we can control our whole bodies! It's a difficult task, more difficult for some than for others.
“We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.”
“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”