Sunday, July 17, 2011

Words Carelessly Uttered

"You live in the Pacific.  You should know how to spell, 'Australia'."  This from an Aussie teacher.  I can still remember the sarcasm.  Her underlying message, as I perceived it, was, 'You ethnocentric American child.  Make a little effort, why don't you.'  Now, I'm sure she didn't mean to communicate anything more nefarious than basic frustration.  But to my sensitive heart, the words cut.

There are other times I can remember when a few words carelessly uttered pierced me.

"You are so flighty."

"You shouldn't need your mother."

"Haoki mai!  Haoki mai!"

"I've realized you are less mature than I am."

As painful as those words were to hear, and as long lasting as their impact has been, I know that I've done the same to others.  While teaching, I am ashamed to say, I can remember a few instances where my words caused the wide-eyed, injured stare.  I've seen it in my husband's eyes.  My children's.  Some friends.  And some people who used to be friends.

As I pray for grace and the ability to control this tongue of mine, that can and has set forests aflame, I have to also pray for grace and forgiveness towards others whose words have done the same to me.

For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.  Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.  Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.  So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.    
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, the veryworld of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.  For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.  But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.  (James 3)

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how those negative comments stick with you forever. It's like a running list that constantly makes you question your worth and ability (at least for me, but I can be super sensitive). I stopped answering questions in class for years, because of a careless comment of a 4th grade teacher. I worry so much about what my children are hearing come out of my mouth and wonder what negative comments they will carry with them. It's a daily struggle, especially when trying to word discipline concerns that pop up. It seems like such a fine line between crushing spirits and molding appropriate behavior