Proverbs 16:24 (NIV)
The young woman in the yellowed picture caught my attention as I was looking through some old albums a few days ago. Her thick hair was quite wavy, brushing her shoulders, and appearing, in the black and white photo, to be red or medium brown. Her skin was naturally flawless and reminded me of the “finished” look that Hollywood actresses spend hundreds of dollars trying to achieve.
She was wearing a button-down cardigan with a dark scarf tied around her neck. Her eyes appeared to be pale and she was looking, not at the camera, but rather off to the right.
But what caught my attention was her smile: it was non-existent. Her lips were pressed together almost as if she was gritting her teeth. I wondered if she simply did not like having her picture taken but I found that hard to believe because she was lovely.
I turned the picture over to see if there was any information about her and read the following: “September 1949. Ruth Adele, age 19 years. Johnny’s latest “hobby” is photography. This is a Kodak picture taken on our front porch. Not too good, but at least you can see how she has grown. Her hair is her one beauty, red gold, and naturally curly. Very fair skin and gray-green eyes. She is several inches taller than I.”
“Her hair is her one beauty . . .” No wonder she wasn’t smiling in the picture. But then I wondered if the person writing those words realized how they sounded. Were they meant kindly? To someone just picking up the picture, they did not read that way. And since they were written down, they were captured for anyone to read years later and wonder, as I did, who the pretty young lady was with no smile.
I have to ask myself how many times I have made a comment like the one made about Ruth Adele without stopping to think about how hurtful it might sound. And what about the emails I have sent with comments that did nothing to build up, but rather tore down the person I was writing about. Unfortunately I know the answer and I am ashamed.
My prayer is that we will all stop and think about what we say – or write – about those around us. Let these words of wisdom be at the beginning of every comment we make and every email we send: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (NIV).
So many times, Father, I have spoken or written words that were hurtful. Forgive me. Please help me to stop and think…and then stop and think again…to make sure that what I am saying or writing only reflects you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
R.A.P. it up . . .
Have you ever made a comment or sent an email and then immediately wished that you could take it back?
Why? What did you say or write that made you feel that way? Did it build up or tear down?
When you find yourself wanting to make a comment, either verbally or written, that might offend or hurt, stop and do a heart check with the Holy Spirit. Will what you have to say build someone up or tear them down?
Is what you want to say or write something that really needs to be shared at all or if it is, can you say it in a different way that will not be hurtful?
Proverbs 16:24 (NIV) “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Proverbs 21:23 (NIV) “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs…”
Colossians 4:6 (NIV) “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Psalm 19:14 (NIV) “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing and information about her books, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.)