I still remember where we were standing. My bare feet were sticking slightly to her linoleum floor as we talked in the doorway of her family’s kitchen. There’s only one part of that conversation that I still hear clearly in my memory now. She told me that someone described me as “boring Tasha.”
That day, I shrugged the comment off because I didn’t know how else to respond. It was a little comment. My good friend didn’t have mean intentions in telling me what was said, but those words stuck. The description of “boring” knocked on the door of my heart, and I let it move in and unpack its bags.
The words that we let fall from our mouths have power. James describes the tongue like the rudder of a ship or a wild animal that must be tamed in James 3:3-6:
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Those simple words shared by my friend directed the way I viewed myself from behind the scenes of my life for years after that seemingly insignificant moment.
That was over twenty years ago.
It’s taken Jesus’ relentless pursuit of my heart — days that turned into years of reading my Bible and living in community with others who spoke truth and grace to me — to believe what’s actually true about me. What’s actually true couldn’t be further from the word “boring.” You and I are masterpieces, created by the God who made the galaxies and the beautiful cluster of stormy, sea-blue irises that bloom outside my window every spring.
What if the words you casually said today stuck with someone for the next twenty years or more, wrapping around them like a set of caged bars and hindering how they move forward in the world from this day on? Or what if the words you intentionally spoke today stuck with someone and set them free to move into the places God purposed for them to be with courage, confidence, and conviction?
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV)
Some of us need to put into practice taking words and thoughts captive before we speak them or keep them.
Some of us need to learn to speak up and say the words God meant for us to speak: words of truth that affirm the Imago Dei in every one of us. Not speaking up when we should is just as dangerous as speaking when we shouldn’t. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Our world continues to bear the weight and impact of a global pandemic along with all the pain and injustice of systemic racism. We are all facing loss, uncertainty, and division. In light of that, let’s be people who remember that our words wield great power. God meant for each of us to speak words of truth, sandwiched between grace and love. In a time of great need, our words have the power to soothe thirsty souls and heal the fractured bones of our land.
Some of us need to learn to speak up and say the words God meant for us to speak: words of truth that affirm the Imago Dei in every one of us. -@tashajunb: Click To Tweet