A REFLECTION AND A BENEDICTION FOR THE WEEK
(Friday, October 15th)
A few days ago, as I journaled my morning prayers and reflections, I felt God asking me, “If you could begin fresh and new in every way possible, what would be the first change you would make?”
Oh my goodness. The answer came quickly – and painfully:
“If I could begin completely anew, I would erase all of the embarrassing or stupid or unkind or reactionary words I have said.”
I recalled a few of those moments over the years when I had naïvely made silly or clueless statements, when I angrily spat out hurtful remarks or hastily joined in gossip, or when I quickly assigned the worst of another’s intentions. The expression, her words spilled out, is so aptly descriptive of these times. Words that should have remained unsaid, or at least have been considered further, found a way to escape and render harm or embarrassment. My soul felt the discomfort of spiritual correction that morning!
This journaling prompt may have stemmed from an incident that happened a few months before. I had written an editorial to our local newspaper – a heartfelt plea for people to be vaccinated. I wrote about my time with cancer and how grateful I am to be alive. I also described my uncertainty and fear of the chemotherapy treatments, yet how thankful I am to have taken the risk. With the sincere hope of protecting more people from Covid, I shared my story and my heart.
There were several comments from readers who thanked me and affirmed my words, and the editor sent me a personal note of appreciation. But one reader only tersely commented, “This is stupid.” Oh my, his words surprised and hurt me!
I wish I could tell you that I wanted to respond with understanding, ask him to elaborate, and listen to his differing viewpoints. Instead, I felt very tempted to reply with that classic comeback, “You’re stupid.” I even began mentally composing haughty and critical remarks about his comment. But I refrained from replying because I knew my words would be seen throughout the Charleston area, and they would diminish the loving intention and purpose for my article.
This week, I am seeing how this man’s words were not much different from some of my spilled-out words that I have since regretted. God has compassionately understood and forgiven me, and I am to do the same for this reader. If we are to live as bearers of light and love, we must be mindful that our words – and our responses to the words of others – will become outward examples of our inner integrity.
The words we choose will either foster or hinder the way others perceive the love of Christ in our world. We can choose our words to serve as arsenals of retaliation or instruments of peace. We can utter an angry retort or we can remain silent. We can cleverly insult or lovingly correct. In every trouble or concern, we can blame and name-call, or we can address the issue itself. We can pause and pray before responding; we can ask for the grace to be kind, truthful, merciful, encouraging, and thoughtful in all we say and do.
In merciful love, God compassionately and completely erases every regrettable, hurtful word that we have said or written…
In tender care, God rewrites messages for healing and growth out of every callous, hurtful word that we have heard or read…
In radiant hope, God offers all of us new voices and new pens, so that we may create better stories – our ongoing stories of understanding, lovingkindness, and community, and our eternal story of the goodness of God.
May you come to God in gratitude
for this, a fresh new day
and ask God’s love to flow through you
in all you do and say.
May your words become a sacred part
of God’s eternal Word.
May your voice become a holy space
where peace and love are heard.
May the words you speak be kind and good
and merciful and true.
And when you don’t know what to say,
let your silence speak for you.
May you give God every hurtful word
that lingers in your heart;
let God rewrite a better tale
of healing and new starts.
May you turn to God for clarity,
for wisdom and insight,
with understanding, patience, peace,
and joy to do what’s right.
May you speak with gentle kindness
and listen with soft grace.
May you write a hopeful story
with God to edit and erase.
May you always try to bear in mind:
with every word you have the choice
to use the ones that foster love.
Give God your pen and voice.
BIBLE PASSAGES TO BLESS YOUR WEEK:
Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
Psalm 141:3 (NRSV)
One who spares words is knowledgeable;
one who is cool in spirit has understanding.
Even fools who keep silent are considered wise;
when they close their lips, they are deemed intelligent.
Proverbs 17:27-28 (NRSV)
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:29-32 (NRSV)
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 16:24 (NRSV)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.
Colossians 4:6 (NRSV)
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.
James 1:19-20 (NRSV)
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/
(Photo by Karen)