This past week I had one of those days. You know the ones where you were up 3 times the night before with a teething a baby and you're super tired? I finally made my cup of coffee and sat down to do some meal planning which I find relaxing and enjoyable. The kids came into the room and started arguing over something ridiculous and the next thing you know, my precious cup 'o' joe was all over the table and the floor. I was so mad and so tired. I remember trying to keep my mouth shut and not say anything because I knew that I had a boiling cauldron of angry words burning up inside of me waiting to fly out and punish the children for their carelessness.
As it turns out, there is a Proverb describing this exact situation: "A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire," Proverbs 16:27. Scripture is full of verses about the power of words but what this particular one demonstrates is the fiery nature of our words. I was the dragon mom spitting out fire to burn my children. I'm good at pretending that I'm using my words to discipline (build up and instruct) but what I'm oftentimes doing is actually attempting to punish them (make them pay for their actions). So often I spit out my words wanting to scorch someone whether it is my children or the employee at the badly run Wal-Mart (I try not to go to Wal-Mart because I always end up leaving super mad). I see this in my children as well. They shout things at each other all the time like, "bad boy," or "I'm not going to be your friend." Their intent is not to fix the situation or even change the other person but rather to hurt them. These are dragon-fire words.
Now the analogy of a dragon eventually breaks down because, you see, dragons can spit out fire without ever hurting themselves. They obviously have fire proof throats and bellies. We do not. If the mouth speaks out of the overflow of our hearts, then our hearts must be filled with fire and we are most definitely not fire proof. We may attempt to use those fiery words to burn others but really we're scorching our insides. Am I happier when I let my children know just how annoying and inconvenient they are acting? Well, for a time I may feel justified and maybe it even feels good letting everyone know just how I feel. But after a few minutes or even seconds, I feel guilt, and anger and bitterness welling up inside. I might see my children upset by my words or perhaps they are carrying on the same exact sin because I haven't truly disciplined them. Those words are turning my soul bitter and black and hurting me as much as I want to hurt those around me.
However, if words can be like scorching fire, the opposite is also true: "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body," Proverbs 16:24.
I love to give my children special treats and watch them get all excited. You know that look on their face when you make them the special birthday dessert they requested 364 days ago? They are thrilled and I love watching them enjoy good things! My words can be just like that. This doesn't mean that I need to only say nice things or always pretend that everything is ok. When true words are spoken with love, they are both sweet and nourishing. This isn't Valetine's day candy sort of love; this is a hard-core 1 Corinthians 13 sort of love. Words that are spoken without rudeness, arrogance, or self centeredness but are filled with patience and kindness and coming from a person who is willing to endure and bear all things out of love. Only then can they have the sweetness of honey but, at the same time, be just as healthy as organic kale. In my crunchy mama book, this is the best of both worlds!
So lately in our house we've been talking a lot about words and I've been doing a lot of repenting. As I hear the good and the bad coming out of the mouths of my children, I try to stop and ask them if they are using fire words or dessert words. I also find that I have to constantly ask myself the same question. It is hard work but, as I spend time meditating on Scripture, I'm thankful that we have the Word and the Bread of Life which are as sweet as honeycomb to fill and sustain us.