Several months back, I was sitting in the car with my kids, waiting for my husband to roll out of football practice when I heard the familiar “ping” of my phone, alerting me to a new text message. As I saw the name of the messenger, I was instantly perplexed and curious. My stepson’s mom, who was disgruntled and at her wit’s end with my teenage stepson, had reached out to me.
I was particularly surprised that she was contacting me, considering our relationship is…let’s just say, less than perfect. Not going to sugarcoat it – being a stepmom for over ten years, it’s no puzzle to me that these complex relationships are a recipe for dissension. Afterall, it’s a relationship that was not in God’s original plan for the family unit (just take Sarah and Hagar, for example). And like Sarah and Hager, the enemy has been at work in this challenging relationship since Jesse and I started dating.
Resentment, blame, unforgiveness, insecurity…just a few of the tactics Satan loves to use for his evil schemes in these kind of sticky situations. Disagreements and false accusations have taken us down this dark road and has allowed room for a lot of hurt and frustration to unvoluntarily pour into our lives over the years. But it has also allowed room for personal growth, character development, and spiritual refinement.
As I read through her parental vexation, I could not help but recall all the verbal wounds incurred over the years at our expense. Every hurtful text, phone conversation, Facebook post. Every insult and attack on our character has been a tough pill to swallow. I was half- tempted to just ignore her plea altogether or respond with a quick, unconstructive tip to send her on her way. But then the Holy Spirit prompted me… why of all people, did she choose to reach out to me? Me!
So I stared at my phone, contemplating my next move. I asked God, “Lord, what would you have me say to her?” And His response was very direct: Speak Life!
Did I want to feed into my human temptation to seize the opportunity and lash out or choose a path that would lead to an eternal reward of faithfulness? Rather than taking full advantage of her vulnerable state and pin-point my tally of her failures and faults, I chose life. Not because I am the picture of perfect parenting, but because I am a child of God. Not because the high road is the easier road to take. But because it is the road He calls of His children.
I told her that motherhood is a challenging, but rewarding calling. That as moms, we battle feelings of failure on a daily basis. That all children have their strengths and weaknesses, as do adults. I told her motherhood requires grace – lots of grace. And finally, I encouraged her to seek the Throne of Jesus to give His wisdom to parent intentionally, lovinging, and effectively.
I received no reply. But I prayed my words planted seeds of hope into her weary heart.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” -Proverbs 18:21
I am by no means trying to take an opportunity to slander my stepson’s mom. But I am making every attempt to demonstrate the formidable power that dwells within each and every one of us. And this power is not limited to the difficult people God places in our lives, but to those that are right under our roof, and in front of us in the grocery store, and the outspoken neighbor who’s beliefs outwardly defies our personal convictions.
We speak life by encouraging, uplifting, and voicing the truth in love and grace.
There is a saying I tell my children all the time in order to teach them an applicable example of the power of the tongue: Our mouth has the power to hurt or help. A power that holds the promise of giving life or death. Victory or defeat. Love or hate. We have the power to turn on the light into a dark situation or relationship simply by choosing to speak words of grace and wisdom.
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” -Proverbs 12:18
I once heard a pastor give a profound image of what our words would look like if we could actually see them with our eyes? He went on to say hurtful words are like daggers – knives flying through the air – abrasively cutting, leaving life-long scars. But words that offer healing and affirmation – they breathe life into dry bones – into lifeless relationships and circumstances.
Even if we can’t visibly see our positive words move the mountains in our lives, we can be confident that our words did not fall on deaf ears in the spiritual realm and be certain of the victories we won for Christ by being stewards of our tongue. Interestingly, the tongue is known to be one of the strongest muscles in our body – and out of 650 muscles – that’s some strong competition.
We must diligently discern our words because once they are spoken, they can not be taken back. And the pain caused by harmful words can leave devestaing wounds that last a lifetime. But, if we tame our tongue and use our God-given speech for edification, we have the power to shatter the plans of the enemy, glorify God, further His Kingdom, and be heirs in His righteousness.
The Humble Homemaker