Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Matter of Life and Death

Before my blog rotation I pray and ask God what He would want to say through this blog. Typically I want to share issues that God is pointing at me about because I never want to come across as someone who has mastered anything. This topic is no different--I'm working on it, I still fail, but I wanted to offer awareness and hope. I felt the direction for today's post was about words. I get to church Sunday and guess what the sermon is on?

The power of words.

Nothing like a confirmation to seal the deal.

James 3:9 NIV
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness

I'm guilty of this. I can be in church worshipping and ten minutes later be in the parking lot heaping sarcasm on the kids. What is the one thing in common? Words come from the tongue. They can give life, or they can give death.

A compliment feels pretty good, doesn't it? I read once that it takes seven compliments to erase one, just one criticism. The saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?" I may sound a tad passionate here but I think that adage came from the devil himself. Words hurt. Words heal. Words are powerful.

For a long time I carried such guilt because I knew as someone with so much anger inside me, I spewed a lot of venom in my non faith and early faith days. I even became known as poison pen. Same deal. I might have put it on paper but still, I was wielding a mighty weapon with my pen--words.

My writing today is to make you aware and encourage you, as well as myself. Simple statements like "stupid, loser, failure" can damage in ways that could take years to heal. I suggest you even reflect on the nicknames you give to others. Are they words that build people up or tear down? If you are using the reason that you're just joking--is the other person laughing?

My husband and I have a heart for marriage ministry. Believe it or not, a man's top need is not in the bedroom. He needs to be affirmed and believed in. The very worst word you could throw at him besides divorce is anything that depicts him as a failure. I have been around conversations when the wife had not one thing, not one thing to say that was positive about him, even when pressed to think of something. It was heartbreaking to watch.

I've also been the recipient of a mom telling me my kid could do one thing because my kid was smart, but her kids never could because they are stupid. I stopped her right there. I knew enough about her family to know words had been used against them for generations. The cycle CAN be broken. I let her know that those words tear down and that her children are gifted by God Himself and I prayed against those words to ever be uttered again. But if mom isn't hearing words of life, how can we expect her to pass them on to her children?

The Bible has a lot to say on the tongue and our words. Do a word search on tongue and see what all comes up. There are great verses to think on. I know James 1:26 NIV
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless
is something I've seen in action. They let me know how often they are in church, what positions they hold on the board, and that I should be doing x, y, or z, right before they launch a joke session that would make George Carlin blush. I don't want to be around that, and I don't want to be that. How can I make sure?

Take every thought to Christ. If I keep my focus on Him, my words flow a lot nicer. I think of it like a pipe. If I make God my first priority of the day, water falls freely and clearly in the day. If I move my God time further and further until the day is basically over, I can picture a clogged rusty pipe called my tongue. I get short tempered, sarcastic and my thoughts aren't much better.

If you are someone that has heard negative words for any period of time, I want you to know you don't have to receive those words anymore. Years ago someone innocently made a comparison that pitted me against someone else. I came off as the smart one, and that person was portrayed as the pretty one. Couldn't we be both? I had no idea and for decades I unwillingly made choices based on what a "Smart" person would do. Once God showed me that I believed in a "word curse" I realized what was going on. I went to prayer and I let God know I no longer agreed with that statement and I wanted to make choices that reflected His plan for me, not what I heard years ago. It's a process. It took time and it truly took (and still takes) every word and thought to the cross. I'm not walking around like a model, but I wear bolder colors than I used to. I have my hair done with professional color, something I never thought I thought was meant for me because I thought it was a pretty person thing, not a smart person choice. The power of words.

I've seen people struggle in school because they were told they were not college material. I know women who had self esteem issues because someone laid their own baggage of guilt and shame on them and proclaimed them ugly or unworthy in some way.

I've also read about forgotten children with a scandalous beginning who came across someone who spoke a blessing over their life. Those kids came alive and became leaders, doctors, politicians and believing in the dreams God gave them.

I don't know where you fall---maybe both places. Maybe you are using hurtful words because someone hurt you. It's a simple cliche but a true one. Hurt people hurt people. But it doesn't mean it has to stay that way.

If you are using words that are tearing down instead of building up, confess it to God. Ask for His help. You can not conquer it in your own strength. Don't beat yourself up when you make a mistake because you most likely will. Keep going to God with everything, start your day with Him. Dive in the Bible and do the word search. Just don't let that spark called your tongue become a forest fire.

If you are remembering experiences where words defined you, ask God to reveal them all. You can't change what you don't know. Go to prayer and break agreement with those word curses. Let God renew your mind with His truth. He will never, ever put you down or make you feel like a failure or ugly or a loser. If that is a voice you are hearing, it is not God. God truly is love. He may rebuke us, but He'll never condemn.

And neither should we.

By the way, Joyr Chickonoski's mentoring and http://www.getrealliving.com/ is where I learned how to break agreement with word curses and live freely. She has a book available at this site as well that has helped me greatly called Becoming Lovers: The Journey from Disciple of Christ to Bride of Christ.

Julie Arduini is a surrendered writer with her own blog, http://thesurrenderedscribe.blogspot.com/. A graduate of the Christian Writers Guild, she blogs for the Christian Writers Forum Sundays as the mommy blogger and is the Forum's book club facilitator. She is active with FaithWriters and has several writings ready to publish in different books and anthologies in 2008-09. To get to know her better, read her interview by Lynda Schab at: http://www.faithreaders.com/featured-author-details.php?id=33%20
http://www.faithreaders.com/featured-author-details.php?id=33%20To contact Julie, please use the e mail provided in our profile. She also feels she needs to confess as she was writing this post she yelled at her kids.

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