Toothpaste. Something we use every day. Something we might take for granted… until we are down to the last squeeze.
Years ago there was a very popular children’s sermon about toothpaste. The presenter would squirt some out and then ask the little ones how to put it back in. And of course it’s nearly impossible. Then the leader would talk about words. How once they come out of our mouths they can’t be put back in. And we all know this. But we aren’t always careful enough, mindful enough, restrained enough to control the words that tumble off our tongues.
Does it happen with you? You’ve had a difficult conversation with a friend, a co-worker, a partner, a child and you later “replay” the exchange of words in your mind. You wish you hadn’t said something. And you worry about the ongoing impact of certain words. Or how you said them. Maybe you could have chosen different words. Or no words. But the conversation is over. What was said was said.
Maybe you’re not that self-reflective and that’s ok. And maybe words don’t seem like a big deal to you. But maybe you’ve felt the impact of others’ words and you get it. I believe we all know how powerful words are. And I also believe we cannot be too careful with them, mindful of them, even restrained at times with them. I’m not always and I know it. But I try.
I’ve been reading a biography of the life of Fred Rogers. He was super careful about words. Rogers fretted about how all of the words expressed on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood would be received by the little ears listening to them. And children trusted Mr. Rogers. And that made a huge difference. It’s true for all of us. The source of words makes a difference in how we receive them. Whether we will take them to heart. And to what extent our lives will be impacted by them.
It’s currently a huge challenge with all the words swirling around about the coronavirus. Whose words do you trust? How will your life be changed by them? But it’s always the case with all words. Whose do we value? Whose matter most? When taken to heart, whose words will change us?
Being careful, mindful, restrained with our own words may not always be easy. But it’s important. Not a one of us is perfect. But there’s grace. Thank God. That’s one of the most powerful words we receive from God! And coming from God, it’s trustworthy! So, yes – let’s take it to heart!