Broken arm or broken heart? Popular sentiment disagrees on which is preferable.

Old-timers remember, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

The opposite sentiment is a social media staple, “I’d rather be hurt physically than emotionally. You can put a band-aid on a wound, but it’s harder to heal a broken heart.”

Personal experience often dictates preference. I’ve had a broken heart, felt unloved and dismissed, but also have profound respect for waves of unmanageable pain. Been there, done ’em all.

I thought about it for a few minutes and couldn’t decide which was least bad.

I’ll let God decide.

People rarely physically injure loved ones. Accidents happen, but by definition, accidents are beyond our control. And then there are words…

Words as Blessing or Curses

Words are powerful. Words lift, comfort, and validate. Unlike the pain of accidents, the crushing blow from a hasty or self-indulgent comment is preventable.

Imagine someone you admire looking deeply into your eyes and saying,

“You’re so generous!”

“You’re lazy.”

“You’re so creative!”

“You’re plain.”

“You’re funny!”

People who don’t care what other people think aren’t being 100% honest. They may care little, but every parent, child, or spouse has been on the receiving end of a hurtful word from someone they love.

It stings. Sometimes worse.

Words build up. Words also build walls.

“Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” — Matthew 15:11

Once Spoken, Words Fly the Coop Forever

Sound waves never stop traveling. Every word and sound you make (a horrible thought) is forever. On some distant planet, that really bad thing you said twenty years ago is breaking news.

God hears every word and knows the heart that produced it. Some folks like to think that a word unspoken doesn’t count. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?

When you look someone in the face while stifling an acerbic retort, it isn’t hidden. Your eyes narrow, lips purse, and the wrinkles between your eyebrows deepen. Those are NOT laugh lines.

My face is a dead giveaway for what I’m thinking. At least I imagine it is. I remember my father walking into a room when I was about seven, took one look at me and said, “Wipe that expression off your face.” I had no idea WHAT expression it was. Sometimes I’m still baffled.

There’s no light of Christ reflected on your face when you think what you dare not say aloud. I’ve thought a lot about the light of Christ lately. Watching part of a recorded consulting session, I was horrified by my expression! I was concentrating, evaluating what was being said to respond constructively. The wheels were turning. But I appeared hard. Aggressive.

I didn’t see the love of Christ on my face. It was there, but not visible.

Words As Weapons or Tools

I’m working on that –  using words. If you know me, you know I talk to myself. My present mantra is, “Light of Christ. Light of Christ.” When it isn’t too weird, I speak it out loud. My face relaxes and feels softer. I hope there’s a hint of brightness.

A picture, it is said, speaks a thousand words.

Your face has a bigger vocabulary than a photo. Not to mention body language that transcends language or dialect.

Think it — it shows.

Sobering, I know.

Once spoken, words are free forever. Use them wisely.

There are a few poisonous sentences my father said to me while I was growing up. He didn’t remember one of them. I remembered them all.

Here’s a new flash: children believe what their parents tell them. Think about it. Good is great and bad is corrosive.

It’s possible to misinterpret expressions or body language.

Words speak for themselves.

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips. — Psalm 141:3

Your Legacy of Words

  • Speak blessing.
  • Speak love.
  • Speak healing.
  • Speak peace.
  • Speak truth.
  • Speak possibility.
  • Speak into, not over.
  • Speak to support, not demolish.

Words are tiny investments made in ourselves and others. The return on investment may come immediately or in future decades.

The average person speaks roughly 16,000 words daily. Imagine $16,000.00 dropping into your investment account every morning. What would you do with it?

  • How much would you use as kindle to burn someone else up?
  • How much would you impulsively waste?
  • What if you knew the regular deposit will abruptly end one day — but you don’t know when.

That’s true of words. One day you’ll be done speaking. The cover on your legacy will close. The story will be complete.

Did you tithe your words in praise to the Lord?

Did you invest words for children and grandchildren?

One day Jesus will review all you’ve done. That includes every word spoken.

Did you invest wisely?

“His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” — Matthew 25:21