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Personal, Words

November 18, 2015


Why are we not talking about the way we’re talking?

Why is it we look at James 3 and see
the tongue is deadly poison, untamable,
a restless evil set on fire by hell
and take that as little more than a simplistic charge
to avoid saying a handful of four-letter words
As if the impact of cursing lay in offending one’s sensibility
As if not saying those words did more than bolster your own self-righteous morality––
No, let’s talk about cursing, really cursing a person
 The forest-fire effect of reducing one’s self-confidence to ashes
By convincing them they’re just not good enough.
Too dumb. Too quiet. Too fat.
You may as well stick a syringe full of mercury in their arm,
Your curses condemn them to die.
But it’s all in good fun, I’m sure––
Or maybe your jokes are the smoke of this fire
And your careless text sent her to tears
Your taunting rings every night in his ears
And your laughter made her stop eating for years.
I hope your mirth was worth it.

But let’s not stop at the obvious
Let’s talk about the way we condemn each other’s strength
How much our jealous pride taints our replies
When we try to deny the success of another.
Or how some of us are just as unloved because of our advantages
Growing up hearing “you’re so smart, I hate you” didn’t make me value my intelligence
Didn’t drive me to learn or lean into my strengths
Or to train and grow and see where I could go––
No, I felt guilty for my gifts, ashamed of my brain
and rather than embrace the glorious ability God has given
I learned to suppress myself in a misunderstanding of humility.
Maybe you too, are just too pretty. Too smart. Too rich.
Maybe your flippant words are crippling others’ potential to thrive;
These things ought not to be so.

And we cannot forget the empty weight of what is left unsaid
For words can do much good,
but not when trapped inside one’s head.
Where sticks and stones have broken bones
Let not healing go unspoken.
You can help as much as hurt
And it is just as much our duty to build each other up
As it is to not tear down.
Blessing is far more than an absence of cursing––
Not doing bad will never be good enough
For the enemy never shuts up
Never stops moving his forked silver tongue
And he will prevail as long as good men say nothing.

It takes no eloquence to encourage
No long letter to give love
No rhyme to make time to say thanks
And no wisdom to wish one well.

So please, watch your words, my friends.
How I wish we truly could.
For they fly forth like arrows and flames
either piercing and destroying
or feeding and protecting
and it is up to us to guide them.

Maybe your words won’t change the world
But they can change a heart––
And that’s a pretty good place to start.

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
James 3:10

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