June 19, 2009

Words of Life.

One of the most influential lessons that I have learned in my life is the fact that my words are extremely powerful things.

The things that come out of my mouth have the power to affect my life and the life of those around me. They have the ability to bring forth life or bring forth death.

You may be thinking... duh.

Or you may be thinking... huh?

Or you may be thinking... she's off her rocker.

When I first started learning this, I was a skeptical onlooker too. I thought it smacked of religious freakydom. I'd never been told that I could verbally change my life... that I had a choice to make of life or death every single time I parted my lips to speak. It all sounded... new agey to me. Floofy. Narcissistic.

But underneath all the mumbo-jumbo of horrendous 'name it and claim it' church movements or self-propelled 'positive affirmations' where you're taught the power is coming from inside you alone, there is a bedrock foundation. Actual truth. A battle in the spiritual realm of things that can be won or lost by the might- not of your sword- but of your soft gooey lips.

In the years since first hearing this stuff, I have learned that it really is true.

Ten years ago, I was a young girl wracked with heart-pain and guilt. I hated who I'd become, I was angry at the world for not dealing me the hand I felt I deserved, and my mouth poured forth bitterness and spat out sarcasm like tires churning up dirty rain water on asphalt. I'd never been taught to speak words of life over myself or my situations, so I stewed in rage and marinated in hate and burned my arms and wanted nothing more than to spread my pain around to whomever would listen. I felt justified in my constant negativity, and had a way of securing everyone else around me to my sinking ship. I could pervade the entire atmosphere of a room with my malice simply by walking into it.

Do you know people like this?

I was one of those people.

If my mouth was open, pessimism was falling out. The glass was ALWAYS half-empty... even if it was overflowing.

I have always been a sarcastic person. And sarcasm in itself isn't always bad. It can be downright hilarious, in moderation. But, when left unbridled, it can also start to stink up your life and drain the life out of your eyes. If you're not careful, you'll become one of those dull-eyed people who are judging everything around you that moves or breathes. You'll start to think you're better than everyone else and before long, you'll be the cheese who stands alone.

Stinky, sarcastic, judgy CHEESE.

Anywho, back to what I was saying. I used to BE that cheese! Coughing up dust and then wondering why it was so... dusty everywhere.

"pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." proverbs 16:24

"the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." proverbs 18:21

"he who guards his lips, guards his life." proverbs 13:3

Basically... throw a dart at the book of Proverbs, and you're sure to land on something about the connection between your mouth and heart. It's written throughout the entire Bible. According to James, the tongue has the ability to set the course of a man's life on fire. Yikes. If you want to know what's deep in your heart, take a moment and really listen to yourself.

Once I started changing my speech all those years ago, my whole entire life and being and soul and mind and heart changed with it. No joke! I no longer allowed myself to say every negative thing I thought out loud. I stopped trying to scrape my misery onto my friends like hard butter onto dry toast. I stopped speaking death and sarcasm over every situation in my life, and started speaking hopefully over the difficulties... even over the pain.

And sure enough, in no time at all, my attitude followed suit. I became a hopeful person. Life brightened my eyes and countenance again. I was actually HAPPY. Life was sweet and the bones that had been broken began healing- just like solomon said they would in proverbs.

Like anything in life, there is balance in this. You don't want to be one of those people who takes it to the extreme and never allows themselves to be honest about how they are really feeling with anyone. The "happy-go-lucky yet dying on the inside" religious martyr. You still need to have a couple of people that know the inside workings of your heart- that you can vent with and be real with and feel safe with. People who are willing to pray for you and keep you accountable and speak hope for you and over you when you just don't have the strength to do it on your own. We all need that safe place... those hope-speakers...

Surround yourself with hope-speakers. People who propel you forward rather than drag you down. Your whole world will feel brighter.


All of this to say, these last few weeks, I have not been very good at remembering this in my own life. Negativity crept back in, and I didn't recognize it until yesterday. I've been speaking death over my heart rather than life. I've been complaining a LOT about having to take care of the kids all day everyday and wake up with the baby infinity times a night. So, naturally, taking care of the kids has been stripped of all joy for me.

My husband has been affected by my attitude and been worn down by my negative speech. (another favorite proverb of mine: "better to live on the corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife". ha ha.)

The little blessings have gone unnoticed. The fact that I am blessed to a ridiculous degree in every area of my life has gone unacknowledged. I've been ungrateful. And... I'm done with it! Starting now. (The only one who has been missing out has been me.) It has gotten me nowhere, it has taken the sweetness out of my life and my days, and it has proven this truth to me once again:

My words are strong. And the only one responsible for how I use them is ME.


Jen said...

Such a beautiful post. Seriously this should be published in a book. Thanks for sharing this, it is exactly what I needed this morning. If it's ok with you I would to link this post on my blog. I hope you have a great Saturday!


Jen said...

Oops sorry for the typo! I meant to say, I would like to link this post on my blog!

Melissa said...

Good stuff. It's so easy to forget this power we all hold. Thanks for reminding me.

skylana said...

me and seth are RULL into this. theres a guy that he works with that we call mind freak who is so complexly into this i can't even begin to explain it in writing... everyone he tells about it thinks he's insane but seth i agree with him haha... its a little more extreme probably than what you are explaining here, but i'm totally down with it. and its totally true.

MaryBeth said...

Thanks Emery,
Needed a reminder of this after this week. MaryBeth

Hunnybee said...

When I read this, this quote came to mind:
Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up past mercies.
-Charles E. Jefferson

Good stuff, Emery.

Karen, Scott, and Jared said...

thanks emery! i know i've been pretty toxic lately to my loved ones and i hate it. so, no more for me either! thanks for the proverbs references... so refreshing and such great little clips to keep things in check.

Lisa said...

How the heck do you always seem to say the things I need to hear right at that moment, Emery?

Bluebelle said...

Wow, thanks for sharing. You are so right and it's so good to be reminded of how our words affect our lives. :)

Zimms Zoo said...

This hits home. Baby 6 wakes up several times a night (none of the others did) making me grumpy. It is then re-directed toward the other kids.

I have dug back into God's truths and are starting to find more joy.

Court said...

I'm with Lisa... You always blog about the things that I'm dealing with. Or that I don't realize I NEED to deal with until I read your blog. Thank you! =)

sufferingsummer said...

this is once again another post that makes me know we would be great real life and not just computer friends;)
You just described me to a T but with age has come shorter negative spells and much longer hopeful sessions...such a relief.
by the way that hair pic just below this post is freaking awesome! You are adorable.

~love said...

holy cow. (i don't think i'd actually say that in real life if we were having coffee, but here....it seemed fitting.)

this literally JUST happened:
i was saddened today by my girls (seemingly) constantly using their words to hurt each other. sure at 4 and 5, it was "just": "no, you can't come in the tent" or "no, you're not big enough." or "it's MY turn." but, it is SO much more than that. i, too, have made this serious connection of the tongue and heart & just how much it affects everyone around us.

SO, i just opened up to the book of Proverbs. we learned 10:19b "...whoever holds his tongue is wise." i encouraged them, when they felt like saying something mean, to instead hold their tongue in order to show God's love. we talked about how that meant to just not say it, but they could remind themselves by really holding their tongue!! =)

ANYWAY...this got long, but i am thankful for you posting this! it is beautiful and something SO true!

Jenny Schlenker said...

em, I just love you sister! ah, I just love you and love your heart and love, love that you speak words of LIFE! Thank you so much for this post- Do you mind if I Copy and Past this on my blog reading" from my friend emery"? I am serious- it has been too long... i would still love to come see you!

Amy said...

I love this post. I Shared and Stumbled and Twittered and all that.

I completely agree. I also know that having someone who "knows the inside workings of your heart- that you can vent with and be real with and feel safe with" is critical to achieving this and not becoming the outward smiling-inward sad person. That's my struggle.