My husband has created a visual paradise in our back yard. He has a green thumb and the ability to execute his vision perfectly. The result is a scenic and relaxing area that the entire family can enjoy. I walked outside this morning though and noticed that there was something not quite right about the area that usually greets me. After a minute of soaking in the total scene, I was able to zero in on the conflict that was disturbing the usual flow. There was a scattering and an additional lump of white wood shavings on the deck surrounding one of our Adirondack chairs. This was perplexing and irritating. Irritating because I not only had to clean the area but the chair would now forever be marred and would bear the reminder of this incident. Perplexing because I could not imagine what caused this to occur. We have been dealing with a woodpecker who likes to peck the metal at the opening of our fireplace. This has been comical because I like to sew in the room that has the fireplace. When the sewing machine is engaged, the sound emanating from the engine creates a noise that the woodpecker must assimilate and connect to another woodpecker. This causes some frantic and staccato sounds while the bird tries to communicate. Meanwhile, my chocolate lab gets excited and starts to whine in her efforts to communicate. It really is quite humorous. But this matter of the deck chair was not as funny. When my husband came home from work, he looked at the markings on the chair and determined it to be a chipmunk’s handiwork. He cleaned the area and sprayed something that would deter the animal from his effort at remodeling our furniture and hopefully will put an end to this damage. Preventative but not reversible.
This got me thinking. One of my favorite books in the Bible is James. The author writes in such a way that is straight forward and easy to understand. There is no mincing of words. The message is not easily misunderstood: Words are not to be used casually and without consideration. They are like missiles that are aimed at a target. There is not much that can be done to take them back once you have released them and the damage from contact is immediate and long lasting. I have a short temper and a quick fuse, inherent to my red hair gene. At least that is where I comically place the blame. Internally, I know this is a character defect. The problem with a quick fuse and an open mouth is that words fly like bullets, hitting their mark and wreaking havoc before rationalization and calmness can overtake the initial onslaught of destruction. I find myself in this battle zone frequently. This is an area of correction that I need to work toward perfecting but that I am sure will take a lifetime to accomplish. These thoughts were running through my mind as I considered the white paint flecks and damaged wood on our deck. It seemed to be a metaphorical message aimed straight to my heart. Each swipe of the chipmunk’s teeth into the chair, left a mar that would require some reconstruction by a carpenter. One bite would have been close to unnoticeable, but the amount of marks left on our chair are very evident and had taken some time for the chipmunk to create. The parallel life message is that one errant, unkind word said in a moment of unguardedness or anger leaves a mar on the inside of someone’s heart. The damage on the outside may not be as evident. If these words continue, however, they will quickly create a downtrodden and hurt person whose wounded spirit becomes evident to all. It has been said that “you only hurt the ones you love”. That may be true but it should not happen. Why are we nicer to those we don’t know? Why can we filter our mouths around colleagues but not our family? This is not the behavior that Christians are called to exhibit. No, completely the opposite, as a matter of fact, should be the actions of someone who has experienced ultimate forgiveness. We are called to a higher standard for we are the words, actions and representative of Christ on earth. How will others know Him if we profess to be Christians, yet live worse than someone who has never darkened the door of a church. The good news for those we have hurt with our unkind or hateful words is that there is a Carpenter who can reconstruct and heal a broken heart or wounded spirit. The best option is to avoid the need for reconstructive surgery by remaining strong in our walk with the Lord and allowing Him to season the words we speak.
My goal: keep my mouth shut if I have nothing good to say AND think carefully before I release my bullets of words. There is no friendly fire when words are the weapons. Please leave feedback or suggestions that have helped you to be cautious when you speak.