Over the last decade, I’ve gained some significant weight. I can go on to explain all the reasons why, but that would be a rabbit trail off of the point I want to make. To make a short story shorter, I’ve gained weight, and it’s noticeable.
Have you ever gone through something noticeable and people approached you about it? Weight gain, a surgery that left a noticeable scar, the death of a loved one, etc. Sometimes, the most challenging part about those things isn’t the thing in itself but the people who are “trying to help.”
I’ve learned that even with the best intentions, people say hurtful things.
The other day, someone said something to me about my weight that was hurtful. In some sense, hurtful things can be beneficial if the hurt comes from an attempt to reveal a blind spot. This wasn’t that. This interaction belittled me and made me feel less than.
Just to clarify, I’m not looking for sympathy; I’m hoping to find some common ground with you. People are hurtful. Thankfully, I have thick skin (pun intended) and know how to let the judgments of others eventually roll off. I know this interaction resonates because we’ve all been in a similar situation.
I’m not blind to my weight gain, and I’m actually actively addressing it. But people don’t see the behind-the-scenes work. They don’t see the early morning exercise, the meal planning, or the counseling. They see the surface and fill in the rest with their assumptions.
As I point this out, I must admit that I have also been a part of the problem. I’ve been the guy who said things out of assumption and left someone with an open gash.
The cute song we learned as children, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, was a complete lie. Honestly, I’ve had some words said to me that I’d exchange for “sticks and stones” any day.
The Bible gives us better wisdom. The book of Proverbs says a gentle tongue is like a tree of life, but a perverse one can break the spirit (Proverbs15:4). In other places in scripture, it says that within the tongue is the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21, James 3:6-8). It warns us to be careful with it. And that it actually has the power to breathe out the fire of hell.
The tongue can build up or destroy. Being aware of that bears excellent wisdom. When words come out of your mouth, you can’t take them back. You’ve now spoken life or death out into the world.
If you desire to be a safe place for people, to build others up, to speak on behalf of God, to redeem broken things, you must guard your mouth!
I love the Psalmist who sings this, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3).
Every time you experience hurtful words from another, let it remind you how to position your words. Don’t perpetuate the workings of hell by being an advocate in your speech. Choose to speak words of life.
Chad Fagundes is Men’s and Outreach Pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA. He can be reached at email@example.com or 559-582-1528.