Word choices really matter and especially so in families. Yesterday I wrote about word choices with families. I wrote about how a family unit within my immediate family circle is really going through a tough time. These are good and kind people. They are well-mannered, very giving, and kind to others. I’ve seen it time and again. They are the last people you would expect to face such a cosmic split.
Did you ever see the moved or read the book, “We are the Mulvaneys”? It’s about the disintegration of a family that everyone thought was intact. No one would have expected such a downfall. And yet it happened. And mostly because of things kept hidden and words falsely spoken in order to keep up the facade.
Where do harmful words come from?
The Bible states it clearly. They come from the heart. All emotions, and thus all the way we express those emotions, come from the heart first. If we can get that right, our words will be right. Let’s look at how that happens. It begins with our emotions, cycles to our thoughts, and then finally comes out in words.
Our emotions affect our word choices
When our emotions are raw, it’s easy to blow up. I mean, we are so angry and frustrated they tumble out. We have all experienced this and have all felt regret. This is part of our flawed human nature. But we who are followers of Christ also have a spiritual nature, and just like Paul says in Romans 7:15-25, they are often in conflict with each other. We do and say what we don’t want to and don’t say and do what we want to. If Paul can have a problem, we can admit we do, too.
So the first thing we do to control our words is to control our feelings. You will notice I didn’t say to ignore our feelings. Quite the opposite.Tweet
If you ignore your feelings, you will most likely come to an eruption point eventually. Never ignore your feelings but don’t always act on them, either. When you feel them building up is when you need to watch your words carefully.
Let’s say you are having a contentious conversation with someone, and it’s escalating into an argument. The best thing to do in that situation is to come right out and acknowledge that you feel the conversation is taking a wrong turn and you would rather continue it when both of you have calmed down a little.
I was having a phone conversation a couple of years ago when I sensed that was happening. I love this person very much, but I suggested we curtail it because we were both on the verge of saying something we shouldn’t. It’s always better to end a conversation when it’s going downhill and return to it later if you can.
Our thoughts affect our word choices
Our feelings always turn into thoughts long before they turn into words. But it’s very hard to monitor our thoughts sometimes because we have so many going on all the time. That’s why it’s a good idea to take time every day and take your emotional temperature. If it’s getting hot, examine your thoughts. I’ll bet they are feeding each other. Sometimes it’s hard to know which came first. But again, remember, the heart is the seat of our emotions, our thoughts, our actions, our words, etc.
Our word choices need monitoring
Yesterday’s post covered some of the ways we can monitor our words. Of course, being aware of our emotions and thoughts is crucial. For me, my prayer time makes the most difference. If I pray for people who upset me, it’s hard then to speak harshly to them.
I am going to digress just a moment and make an important point. There are times when speaking the truth is what we must do, even if our words are hurtful. But words can be kind and hurtful at the same time.
And we’ve all had experiences when we’ve taken something out of context, and nothing mean was intended. But then others have taken something out of context that we have said that was meant to do no harm. We are all a little touchy at times. Much more so in this day and age when it doesn’t take much for someone to be offended.
When Jesus conversed with the woman at the well, his words were hurtful because he called the woman up short about the man she was living with. It wasn’t her husband, as Jesus pointed out. But that truthfulness, spoken without harmful intent, led the way to the rest of the conversation. And that led the way to her conversion and the conversion of those she shared the story with. In fact, it is clear from the passage that the woman was glad Jesus called her out. Maybe no one ever had?
But even at these times, we need to choose our words carefully and deliver them with grace.
How do we manage our word choices?
We acknowledge our feelings.
We admit to anger, frustration, etc. Remember, I only said admit.
Next,we voice our thoughts:
to the only one true safe place, to God.
We ask for help
We ask God to help us control our thoughts and not let them control us.
As a side note, this is great advice if you struggle with depression. Be sure to download the free book here on my site if you follow this blog. If you are not, I would love for you to have a copy. All you have to do is sign up.
Finally, we simply pay attention to our thoughts and keep them in check. Keeping our thoughts in check keeps our words in check.
And if you want a crash course about words, read the Proverbs in one setting. It compares to about two book chapters. Circle every word, or if you don’t want to write in your Bible, list what Proverbs teaches about our words. Keep it somewhere handy if you find it hard not to voice your every thought.
Finally,if you are a Christian
This might sound hard, but sometimes, we need to hear the hard truth.
If you are a Christian in your family network, your role is clearly defined in scripture. You are to forgive and make the first move to reconciliation. That doesn’t mean it will happen, and it doesn’t mean anyone else will go along with it. But it does mean you have an obligation to try.
Can any Christian really deny this? We are to live at peace with others as it depends on us, which means we do all we can, and then we let others do whatever they are going to do (Romans 12:18). I take this to mean we are to be at peace with ourselves if we have done all we can to be at peace with others.
I hope you have a great day, and I hope many blessings come your way.