05/10/2012

The Stain of Words*

Posted in Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:38 pm by The Water Bearer

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)

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9 Comments »

  1. What a great post, thanks for sharing!

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  2. In our human form, it is sometimes difficult to remember that one of our responsibilities is to accept the mystery of God’s ways. We never truly know when God will use our faith but that He will is certain. Accepting the mystery of this process is a sign of maturity in faith.

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Your daughter is fortunate to have the benefit of your guidance. Many blessings to you both.

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    • What a lovely thing to say. Yes it is in His mystery that makes me fall deeper in awe and love with Him. Then when He reveals His plan it blows my mind! Thank you for reading Blessings to you! πŸ™‚

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  3. Jim Cantwell said,

    I come from a generation when children were yelled at and spanked for misbehaviour. I learned at a very young age to keep in line with the rules or risk the wrath of my parents tongue and or leather belt. I am not saying I was abused as a child and I firmly believe I was not, my father was the one who handed out the leather belt spankings on our butts, and he always said ” this hurts me more than it does you” and I didn’t get welts from it, but I knew he was serious. My mother’s tongue could be just as damaging if not more. It made me not into the man I am today, far from it, I grew into a man who yelled, who forced his will through brute strength. It was not until I became a father myself that I completely understood what my father would say to me before a spanking. I spanked my daughter one time, and it hurt me more than all the spanking and tongue lashings I have ever received. Thats when I decided to find a better way to deal with things, for myself and so I would not stain my daughters early memories of me, and not teach her these ways. I am very proud to say I am not a yeller any more 13 years now, if I cant get my point of view across in clear concise manner of speaking, I wait until I can. I also refuse to listen to anyone who decides they can yell at me, because they can’t. I have learned the hard way that, Once the volume goes up the ears turn off, and you lose, and it didn’t matter if you were right to begin with.
    Thanks so much for the pingback πŸ™‚

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    • Hi Jim and you are very welcome for the ‘pingback’ Your post really got me thinking… πŸ™‚
      Your history sounds a lot like mine, and in turn I also took up yelling, in anger….. Even at my kids. However I always apologise to them if I think for a second that I may have go too far. Usually I explain more than anything, and I have not had to smack them since they were about 3, and even then it was only a very rare sting on the hand, after the three second warning. I wish I could say it has been 13 years since I yelled! 😦
      I hope and pray I am getting better, I do not tolerate people yelling at me very well either. It gets no one anywhere, except the enemy!
      My emotional extremes, impatience and anxiety is the thorn in my flesh, it lets so many unpleasant things fly out of my mouth before I can even think to prevent them. I pray for God to continue to work on me until I can overcome this enemy in me once and for all!!
      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. πŸ™‚ Maybe you could give me some practical ways to help me stop yelling completely?
      Blessings to you!

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  4. Jim Cantwell said,

    Patience is something that is learned, and we can learn it at any age, I have learned through meditation comes great resolve and not religious but personal resolve, in that quiet space, you really find yourself. Coming to a realization that our children are people too, and deserve the same respect we adults demand will help you achieve what you seek. I will save you the trouble of Googling meditation if you have no experience with it, it really is quite simple.
    Lay in a darkened quiet room, with comfy loose fitting clothes on, relax your entire body, start by saying to yourself “I command every fiber of my toes to become completely relaxed” and do that with every part of your body working up to your head, your breathing will naturally slow as you become more relaxed so don’t focus on it, when you are done relaxing your body start thinking of your goal and what you want, and in that space you will find resolve to it, you may fall asleep the first few times but its ok it takes some getting used to.

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    • I started some relaxation techniques a few years ago through therapy and at first I found it impossible to slow and focus my mind that much. It just runs on auto pilot at top speed and is extremely hard to control. I bought a CD to play in my room at night before I go to sleep and after a dedicated effort I learned to relax. I often have a cup of chamomile tea beforehand to help the process along. However I had never thought of using the time to focus on what I wanted to achieve on the ‘yelling’ front. It was always a way to build self-confidence and peace with myself for who I am, without worrying so much about trying to change everything I didn’t like, or other didn’t like about me. I lived too long in the realm of self-condemnation and depression, with ridiculously high expectations of myself (and others) which still tries to rear it’s ugly head, though nowhere near as often as in the past. It improved by spending less time with those who like to criticise and more with those who accept me for me, plus the time self-esteem building in relaxation. I will try your tips, thank you so much for achieving change so you can share and encourage others to do so. Blessings!!

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  5. Jim Cantwell said,

    πŸ™‚

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