The Stain of Words*
In a recent post I spoke on standing in faith in times of challenge, as you may have guessed I have also given my testimony to many, many people whom God has brought across my life. I have let my experiences with Him pour out into others as often as opportunity becomes available.
Some have been extremely grateful to hear my tales of interactions with God, and then there have been times when these words were thrown back in my face. I have been mocked for my trust in them. There have been times when I thought to myself, ‘I won’t share anymore, I am wasting my breath and time.’ (Although God has not stopped filling my life and so I am still talking Him up, only with less casting of ‘pearls before swine’)
My eldest daughter has expressed a similar response, as she often feels isolated and regretful for sharing her faith with friends who have trouble taking her insights on board. She would also rather keep it all to herself.
When we were discussing this recently I told her the story of the lady who found me on Facebook a couple of years ago. It had been over 20years since I had seen or spoken to her. She told me that she had given her life to Christ a few years earlier and that she thought of me on that special day, of my words of faith and my character. I was touched deeply and humbled that even as a child, in my young stages of faith, God used me to connect with the spiritual standing of another. It may have taken 20 years to hear proof, but the point was clear. I explained to my daughter that we are here to plant a seed, other times we may be called to water the seed already planted, sometimes we may need to help some dig out a bad seed planted by the enemy which is deterring them from faith.
It may take 20 years before someone finally makes use out of the words faithfully poured into them, and just because we don’t always see the flower bloom in their life, just because they don’t react in the way we always hope for, doesn’t mean we had no effect. Powerful words will leave a stain on hearts and minds.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Prov 18:21 (ASV)
I wonder how many of us consider if our words may have left a stain on the lives of those we have spoken to?
The truth about stains is they cannot be erased, they linger around whether you want them to or not, whether you asked for them or not, either way they stay. Some are reminders of good times. The memory of a party with laughter and good company is reflected in the hint of red wine staring up from a floor rug. A child’s shirt or pants splattered in brightly coloured paint as evidence of a day spent being creative and expressive. The soft colour and ruffled edges of a baby’s blanket stained yellow with time after being packed away for many years, gone in a blink.
Then there are the stains we wish we could not recall. A ring on a piece of furniture from a disrespectful guest, or blood from a painful wound. And don’t we all suffer from frustration at the ones which magically appear on a favoured piece of clothing without any recollection of how it came to be….
I read this post Are you an Elephant? by a fellow blogger, and his point got me started on this idea of the lingering effect of our words. He was asking if we let the words we heard in our childhood become so ingrained in our self-belief that they may be holding us back. We easily allocate onus to those who have left word stains on us, but isn’t it time to ask ourselves, what kind of words are we staining others with?
I shudder to think of all the hurtful things I have said to people over the years, when emotional tirades have flown so easily from my lips to their ears. Even after countless apologies and repentance for the words I regret, grace may be given but I doubt the stain is easily erased. I’m sure we have all forgiven many harsh words said in the heat of the moment, but the ones that cut deep, the ones laced with false accusations, or that weren’t apologised for, have stained me. I am still guarded because of them. Perhaps you are too…
“Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, Who sharpen their tongue like a sword, And bend their bows to shoot their arrows–bitter words.” Psalms 64:2-3 (NKJV)
Let us pray for a bridle to control our tongue before we open our mouths to speak in criticism, let us speak boldly when sharing words of faith, and lets consider the stains we are leaving in the lives of others.
“There are some whose uncontrolled talk is like the wounds of a sword, but the tongue of the wise makes one well again.” Prov 12:18 (BBE)