Words I Can’t Edit

Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
   sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

– Proverbs 16:24 NIV

As a writer and a former editor, I am very much a lover of words. I am enamoured with books, fonts, thesauruses, logos, notebooks, pens, libraries, storytellers and book stores all because of words.

Earlier this week I blogged about writing God’s words on the wall, and typically I post my own words on my Facebook “wall” once or twice a week. Those and the words I put down on paper are all thoughtfully and carefully shared. Chalk, pencil and keyboard make controlling these words rather simple. Erasers, back space keys and delete buttons serve me well.

The words that depart from my mouth, on the contrary, are much harder to edit and revise. Once they are said, no eraser can remove them. Perhaps that’s why I struggle with them. I can’t bully them into being eloquent. I can’t make them behave. I can’t make them sound right. Afterwards, I can only stew over them, fret about what else I should have said, or play editorial games with myself — like how I would have worded something differently if I could go back in time.

Especially with those people I love the most, I’ve been struggling with my spoken words lately. 

Deep down I want all my words to be sweet to the soul and healing to the bones, especially those spoken to my children and my husband. That’s a God-given desire I am sure.

But more often than I like, my feelings of frustration or annoyance or irritation season my words with bitterness instead of sweetness. I hear them and almost don’t recognize my own grumpy voice. As they echo in my head, I wonder, “Did I really just say that, like that? What’s wrong with me?” 

Operating in my own strength, I certainly can’t control my words and attitude. But the fruit of Spirit includes self-control. What’s more, I can ask God for specific help.

“Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” -Psalm 141:3

As He promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13, God always provides “a way out” when I am tempted to speak unkind or harsh words. It’s my responsibility to act on that exit strategy, of course!

This week God has also led me to three excellent resources on the power of words and significance of using them wisely.

The first is Watching Our Words from the mother-daughter team of Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre at GirlTalk.

Secondly, in today’s broadcast over at Focus on the Family, speaker Florence Littauer shares the power of encouraging words. I listened and was encouraged!

And last, Steve Murphy at HOMESCHOOLING TODAY magazine chimed in with this article, World-Building by Words.

May these words encourage you also!

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