I remember it like it was yesterday. Pain has a way of engraving itself into our memories…both short term and long term.
It was first grade in Ms. Honnold’s class and we were running back to the yellow door to line up after the bell rang to end recess.
In the frantic rush of trying to get the best place in line, someone stabbed me. And though Charlie didn’t intend to hurt anyone, he had broken one of the cardinal rules in elementary education…
Thou shalt not bring thy freshly sharpened pencil onto the playground.
I got the “point” loud and clear. My scream was loud after the pencil tip shot clear into the palm of my left hand!
Warm crocodile tears flowed down my cheeks as pain emanated from the spot where the sharp lead tip broke off into my 6 year-old hand.
Poor little Charlie felt terrible. Thankfully, he was shown some grace since he and his family had moved into town a few days earlier.
It’s been 39 years since that traumatic experience and yet I still carry the faint scar as a reminder.
Words are like sharp pencils
Our words can also pierce like freshly sharpened pencils wielded by reckless first graders. Though we don’t always intend to hurt others, our words can easily be misunderstood, especially in the age of social media.
Whether we’re texting, tweeting, talking or tagging, it might be wise to slowly count to sixty before hitting send or letting our words fly. We should ask ourselves a few simple questions…
Will this help or hurt someone?
Is this going to be constructive or destructive?
Will these words be encouraging or discouraging?
Some of us carry the scars of word wounds inflicted long ago. The old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” couldn’t be further from the truth. On the contrary, our words can often inflict more long term damage than the physical injuries we may have endured.
In light of the grace and forgiveness God has shown us time and time again, let’s consider the wisdom of Solomon…
“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” – Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NIV)