I had a seventies childhood.
Those were the days when children were naive enough to believe that words lacked potency and sticks and stones packed more of a wallop. Hurtful words, we were told, would make as much impact as water on a duck’s back.
I doubt we actually believed that in our hearts, but the words came in handy when we needed to put on a brave face and regain our bearings after being exposed to a venomous diatribe. Anything to hide the fact that the antagonist had made their mark.
What words lack in bone-crushing propensity, they more than make up for with their unparalleled soul-crushing prowess. There are words that can lay a heart low, rip families apart, push perfectly sane folk over the edge…
The words we wield on untamed tongues…
My late mother once taught me a song about Christians being ‘sermons in shoes’. It was a song about the need to teach, preach and live the gospel, and the way she explained it, those sermons in shoes were mighty sanctified from the inside all the way out to the tip of the tongue.
It meant a lot, coming from my mother, because she was quite the quick-witted, sharp-tongued firebrand in her younger years. In retrospect, I imagine that she must have sung the song as a reminder to herself as well, and what I perceived in her as a growing weakness was actually improved self-control born of years of experience.
Some hills are just not worth dying on.
I am learning…
We need tongues that soothe and heal, instead of rip and shred, because the cycle of pain has to end. Wounded hearts lash out and tongues whip, and the pain is much more than anything a cracked rib could offer.
Barring a miracle of Divine proportions, hurt never really disappears. Those who are hurt tend to pass on hurt, and we have whole generations walking around with bleeding hearts and pillows soaked right through with tears.
Would that we had stuck to sticks and stones.
The slash and burn technique should be restricted to farming… and even there it often wreaks havoc. I have seen dry, barren hillsides with blackened timber a hair’s breadth away from tiny hillside homes. It is a sight that tells the tale of flames gone wild, and the absence of growing plants is a recipe for landslides during the next rainy season.
Slash and burn disrupts natural processes and the natural world has its own way of rebelling. The heavens open and the downpour sends avalanches of mud and stone down hillsides and unto narrow rural roadways and…. God forbid, that anyone would be walking or driving on the roadway when earth’s fury is unleashed. Oh, the agony…
There are avalanches of hurt that have bridged generations and the grace, forgiveness and reconciliation at the heart of the gospel is our only answer.
Under the care of the Divine Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6), impulsive, defensive, pre-conversion Peter could learn to exhort believers to humility and mutual submission (1 Peter 4), and set an example by rejoicing under – rather than slashing his way out of – persecution. If he could learn to walk as his Saviour walked; then ‘sermon in shoes status’ is an attainable goal for every believer.
Purpose today to do no harm, by God’s grace… To take baby steps toward healing wounded hearts and stemming the flow of inner tears.
God is Faithful.
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