Sticks and Stones . . .

imageSticks and stones may break my bones but words . . .

Have you ever thought about the effect your words have on people? I was entering an event venue at the invitation of an acquaintance. When entering, I saw this person and was greeted warmly but with the look that says ‘I know I should know you but’, you know the one, right?  It did not bother me in the slightest. Reflecting, however, on our original meeting and invitation, I expected a different response. Though some time has passed and life gets busy, what was clear is that her words had impacted me more than our original meeting had impacted her. Again, I was not hurt or disappointed, it just struck me how causally we use words. We speak and communicate but we are never certain how those words impact or influence the receiver. There is a children’s song that has as a verse,

 ‘O be careful little mouth what you say . . . for the Father up above is looking down with love, O be careful little mouth what you say.’

What we say even in a small group setting impacts and influences others, either negatively or positively. We judge something simple like appearances and comment even jokingly, and these seemingly benign words are received and have consequences. We talk about others, even in Christian circles and even if the person is not present, the hearers of those words forms opinions and thoughts. These thoughts inform behavior and attitudes toward others. Interestingly, when judging another, we typically attribute their deficiencies to character flaws, but when we judge ourselves we attribute those flaws to circumstances. We judge with incomplete information. We do not know everything, or why choices were made. We assume, but we do not know what we do not know. What would happen, especially in Christian circles, where the world is certainly listening and observing, if we guarded our words with as much care as we guard our money or our children.

 John 13:35 says that all people will know we are followers of Jesus Christ when they observe how we love one another.

 Not by how much we give, or stand in opposition to issues and not even how we love the world. The world will know that we follow Christ by how we demonstrate love within our Christian community towards one another. Jesus says in John 12:32 ‘If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.’ The process seems to be we love in community, lifting up Christ by word and deeds and Jesus will draw men to him. People will come to know him.   Words matter whether the person being talked about is present or not. Words impact and influence. I have done my share of damage in this area, but by the grace of God through this insignificant reunion with an acquaintance, I will be careful what I say.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words have lasting consequences that can destroy.

Do not Fear ANYTHING that is frightening you!

It’s been a while since I posted a blog. Not because I have nothing to share. Those who know me well know I have an opinion on most everything, right or wrong. But I sense a movement in my spirit; a transitioning if you will from something to something. If that is vague, it is because it is still unclear to me. I accept that, though not with great enthusiasm. Transition is hard especially when there is no clarity. I seem to want to know where I am going far into the future but God gives me today and no promise of tomorrow for a reason. I might be alone here, but I suspect not, but this often causes me anxiety and I get overwhelmed in the possibilities; paralyzed in the direction, or lack thereof. (Side note: anxiety manifest itself in behaviors such as over-eating, over-spending, anger, conflict to name a few.)

In an interesting passage in I Peter, the Apostle is speaking to a group that has been dispersed into place unfamiliar to them. They are in somewhat foreign cultures without the support of their spiritual community and without leadership. Peter is writing to give encouragement and refocus their discouragement to proper external relationships and internal resilience. He reminds them whose they are and to what they were called. God made a way through them to bring us the gospel. It was purposeful transitioning, but it was causing them anxiety and fear. In I Peter 3:6 there is an interesting phrase that has been the centerpiece of my quite time for several days. Speaking to wives, in a passage often offensive to independent women of today, Peter says this, using the example of Sarah for them/us to follow  “…if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” That’s a transitioning piece of advice. What keeps me paralyzed in what I know to do is fear; fear of failure, fear of judgement and scrutiny, fear of rejection. What raises my anxiety where I do not know the future is also fear; fear of missing God’s direction, fear of being too old, fear of having messed up or messing up.

Let’s remember Sarah, Abraham’s wife who he told to pretend she was his sister to save his own life. Anyone have a spouse like that? This had to be raise her anxiety a bit. The possible outcomes from that situation were endless and harmful to her welfare. Yet she trusted God and obeyed. Sarah is often remember for getting ahead of God with the whole maidservant thing. She is often the poster child for not trusting God for your future. Both extremes provide a full picture of encouragement and example from Peter. It raised the question for me; of what am I afraid and how can I overcome that fear? That list is long for me right now. Choosing a grad school, birth of new grandchildren, developing ABBA Life Coaching, retirement, dying. How can I overcome those fears?

  • Act on what I know in a manner that glorifies God.
  • Live in this moment with a focus toward others rather than myself alone.
  • Trust the God of Sarah, my God and rest in His future grace and guidance.

The God of Sarah and Abraham and Peter has never let me down, ever. He will complete what he began and will give wisdom to those who ask. He will restore the broken hearted. He will restore what the ravens had eaten. His promises are true for those who believe.