It was a sunny day on the playground. I was with a class of second grade students, watching them run and play during recess, amazed at the energy they had. As I was talking with their teacher, one little girl came up to tell her that another little girl and said the "S" word. Before getting alarmed, this wonderful woman said, "Whisper to me what she said." As the reporter spoke, the teacher smiled. Her response was, "You're right. That is a word we are not supposed to say. Please ask her to come and see me." Apparently, the "S" word was the word "stupid."
We teach our children to be kind to each other. Certain words just aren't nice to say, and I'm not speaking about curse words necessarily. Hearts are easily wounded and children who hear pronouncements upon their character often enough tend to start believing them. That's why we are vigilant, as parents, at listening to what our young ones say and directing them if need be. We are careful to instruct them to speak nicely to others, but do we address how they speak to themselves?
I am one of those people that talks to myself. Sometimes I have full conversations. Do you do that? If I have something on my mind, I work it out orally. It helps me to think things through. Unfortunately, I also talk to myself when I am frustrated about something I have done or when I feel insufficient. That is when I will say things to myself that I would never even dream of saying to someone else. I call myself names. Accuse myself of being less than. Basically, I tell myself that God made a mistake when He created me.
Today's scripture gives guidance on what language we are to use with others. However, remember that when Jesus was asked which was the most important commandment, His response was that we were to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. To me, this indicates that if it isn't acceptable to treat others in a certain way, then it shouldn't be acceptable to treat ourselves that way either. When I call another person a derisive name, I wound that person. Equally, if I use that word to refer to myself, I inflict damage to my own heart. This is a new way of understanding for me and one that has caused deep introspection and driven me to the Father.
It is easy to say things when we are alone and think no one will hear, either out loud or just think them in our minds. The truth of the matter though, is that there is One who is always aware and is grieved. The Lord loved us enough to send His son to die in our place. He was there from the beginning, forming us in His image cell by cell. His mark is on our souls and we insult His workmanship when we say things to ourselves that would not bring Him glory.
There will always be times when we are disappointed, whether it is by the actions of another or of ourselves. No one is perfect. We will make mistakes. But it is important to remember that condemning others, or ourselves, is not a remedy for those times. Hearts are tender and need TLC. One of the best ways to provide that is to guard our thoughts and words. Jesus loves us totally and completely. We can honor Him by speaking encouragement, even when we are the only ones around. May God fill your week with reassurance.