4 Reckless Words I Don’t Want My Kids to Use
Dear Children of Mine,
I love memorizing scripture with you. “Go, but only do what I tell you”. “Do not be anxious about anything”. “Be beautiful inside, in your hearts”. “Call to me and I will answer you”. “I can do all things through Christ”.
We have memorized many Bible verses through the years (although we are not so great with the references!), but my favorite part of memorizing scripture is seeing how God teaches you and changes your hearts as a result. Our most recent verse has accomplished this very thing.
Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing. ~Proverbs 12:18
It has been interesting for me to see how I don’t need to convince you about the truth of this proverb. You have experienced reckless words and you have been pierced by them. You have also experienced words that bring life and healing. You know that when you aren’t thinking about what you are saying, you can hurt others, but when you take time to really think about the person to whom you are speaking, you can choose to use your words wisely.
Our words are powerful. We can use them to build others up or to tear them down. As I have been contemplating the words that we use, four words have jumped out at me, words that I do not want you to use. They are reckless words and when used thoughtlessly, they have potential to hurt and to damage others, to pierce like a sword.
Can we agree to work them out of our vocabulary? Maybe I should tell you what they are first? Okay. Here we go!
You use it when you are joking around and I hear you using it for dramatic effect. But we need to ask ourselves, does this word build others up or tear them down? “Stupid” is a hurtful word whether we use it to describe a person, an inanimate object or even ourselves. It is a critical word, putting ourselves in the position of judge. It makes others feel like they are “less than”. Maybe we use it because we are trying to make ourselves feel better, but if that is the case, we will find that the piercing sword is also ripping us apart. Any time you try to find satisfaction or validation in anything other than God, you will be left with gaping wounds.
Stupid is an ugly word. It is derogatory. It is reckless and it tears down, rather than building up. So, can we agree? No more “stupid” in our house? Good.
Unless you are describing a valid physical condition, this word is hurtful. Once again, it puts us in the position of judge and jury. It doesn’t live up to my expectations? Lame! You don’t have the same preferences as me? Lame!
There will be times when you experience something truly remarkable and then you will look back on something that you thought was amazing, but now it appears, well, not so amazing. And you will be tempted to think, oh, that is so lame! But here’s the thing. Your friends might not have experienced that remarkable thing and so they still love the thing that you now consider to be lame. All of a sudden, you have alienated a friend through your reckless words. For what? To express that you have better taste? “Lame” pierces like a sword. It does not bring healing. Don’t use it!
Unless you are referring to one of your beautiful sisters, please don’t use the word “sissy”. It is meant to be derogatory. In this culture where we value strength and courage, there is a tendency to see anything that falls short of our standard as being weak. And sometimes when boys are trying to be strong, they are tempted to make fun of others who might not be as strong physically.
But using words like “sissy” will only make you a bully. We should never, ever put others down to make ourselves somehow feel better. I want you to be the type of kids who encourage others to be strong, not the ones who put others down to feel good about themselves.
There will be times when this word is used appropriately (as in the person who comes in last place is the loser), but “loser” has become a word used to put others down. It is used recklessly and flippantly, but never to build others up. It is another ugly word that becomes too easy to use if we don’t make the decision not to use it.
Sweet ones, you will hear many people that you admire using these words, so I want you to know that it is not your responsibility to correct what others say. It is also not your place to judge others for what they say or don’t say.
It IS your responsibility to use your words in a way that brings healing. This is my desire for you, to speak life, to speak love.
In the process of writing this letter, I said something that we have deemed off limits in our family. And Ethan, you corrected me. I share this, because I want you to remember that Mommy is on a journey too. I often use words recklessly and for effect. I have a lot of growing to do and I just want to be completely clear about that.
God uses each one of you to make me more like Him.
I love you all to the waxing crescent and back,
Linking with a community of writers who are writing on the prompt “Word. Speech. Language”. Feel free to join in at Kirsten Oliphant’s place.