I still remember where we were standing. My bare feet were sticking slightly to her linoleum floor as we talked in the doorway of her family’s kitchen. There’s only one part of that conversation that I still hear clearly in my memory now. She told me that someone described me as “boring Tasha.”
That day, I shrugged the comment off because I didn’t know how else to respond. It was a little comment. My good friend didn’t have mean intentions in telling me what was said, but those words stuck. The description of “boring” knocked on the door of my heart, and I let it move in and unpack its bags.
The words that we let fall from our mouths have power. James describes the tongue like the rudder of a ship or a wild animal that must be tamed in James 3:3-6:
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Those simple words shared by my friend directed the way I viewed myself from behind the scenes of my life for years after that seemingly insignificant moment.
That was over twenty years ago.
It’s taken Jesus’ relentless pursuit of my heart — days that turned into years of reading my Bible and living in community with others who spoke truth and grace to me — to believe what’s actually true about who I am. What’s actually true couldn’t be further from the word “boring.” You and I are masterpieces, created by the God who made the galaxies and the beautiful cluster of stormy, sea-blue irises that bloom outside my window every spring.
What if the words you casually said today stuck with someone for the next twenty years or more, wrapping around them like a set of caged bars and hindering how they move forward in the world from this day on? Or what if the words you intentionally spoke today stuck with someone and set them free to move into the places God purposed for them to be with courage, confidence, and conviction?
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV)
Some of us need to put into practice taking words and thoughts captive before we speak them or keep them.
Some of us need to learn to speak up and say the words God meant for us to speak: words of truth that affirm the Imago Dei in every one of us. Not speaking up when we should is just as dangerous as speaking when we shouldn’t. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Our world continues to bear the weight and impact of a global pandemic along with all the pain and injustice of systemic racism. We are all facing loss, uncertainty, and exhaustion. In light of that, let’s be people who remember that our words wield great power. God meant for each of us to speak words of truth, sandwiched between grace and love. In a time of great need, our words have the power to soothe thirsty souls and heal the fractured bones of our land.Leave a Comment
Ruth Mills says
May we not only speak only truth & love to others but may God close our ears to non-truths we may be exposed to. It takes something like 100 good reviews to balance 1 bad review. May we be intentional about giving good reviews to others! Bless you for this much needed encouragement!
Ruth, I’ve heard a similar statistic and it’s staggering. Agreed, let’s be about those good reviews and give courage away. Thank you, for your kind words.
Clyta Foster Harris says
As a retired teacher, I can affirm your statement. My annual reviews were mostly positive, but it was those 2 or 3 negative ones that I remembered. Healing was a long time in coming, but it finally did come.
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Tasha Jun, thank you for sharing this. I have words that keep circling in my head that have been with me a long time.And it has been very loud the past few weeks. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone. Thank you for the reminder of going back to Jesus’s words that we are all wonderfully,beautifully made- masterpieces can help my heart to heal. God Bless.
Kathleen, I’m so sorry those words have been circling. You aren’t alone in that, and you aren’t alone in the prayerful fight against them. You are a masterpiece, friend. I see you.
Thank you for sharing. I am 67 and still can hear my paternal grandfather call me stupid when I was about 6 or 7 and learning to tell time. And a recent conversation with two young people helping me at a store were sharing their horror that so many people feel it is ok to be rude and say unkind and mean things to others. I feel as though we have lost our sense of compassion and just plain common sense in how we treat others. I had thought the pandemic would have been a reminder of the golden rule but it seems as things return to somewhat normal, it has only gotten worse. I understand the frustrations people face but why it needs to be expressed in such horrible language is unacceptable.
Yes, it has been hard for everyone, hasn’t it? I’m so grateful that God has given us the power of using our words for good. Thanks for being here, Madeline.
So true, and often we just aren’t aware/aren’t thinking of the meaning behind what we are saying.
Yes, that’s a good point. It’s important to stop and think and consider what’s behind our words. Thanks, Nancy!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Tasha words can hurt. But you know if your friend if she had cared that day. She wouldn’t have told you what some people said about you. She would have prayed for the people that said that about you. Ask God to ask them to think about what they said. Would they like someone to say something like that about them. I if I was guessing. They say not. As words can as I have already said do hurt. We have to be very careful what we say to people or about them. Not let our words hurt them. Then if they did find out we had said about them. It could hurt deeply. As a Christian friend once said to me. Who is glory now. This always sticks with me. Even more so that she is not here today. She say “Bidden or not Bidden God is watching”. That is so true. Even if you never find out what people are saying about you. God see what they done. It wrong in his eyes. You shouldn’t do it. So if those people that said that about you were saved. They wouldn’t even have said that. But if not saved. They don’t know what they have said is wrong. So you when you look back at that day. Your friend shouldn’t have told you what people were saying about you. She if saved should have been praying for you plus the people that said it. That you wouldn’t find out what they said. They would repent for what they said about you. If saved. So if you have not done so you have to pray to God ask to help you forgive the people that said what they said about you. Plus you can look at your friend for telling you this way. She was probably only telling you so as you don’t get more hurt. If you did find out what people said about you. Then you be cross with her for not telling you especially when she knew. I been in similar place to you. Only people have said too my face. Especially when at school. When small. It not nice. As today even though I have forgiven them. I never forget what they called me. I know because I was not saved then and only 9 or 10 then. They wouldn’t have been saved either. Now 50 even though it was all those years ago. It still hurts their words. But if I see any of them. I am able to talk to them. Not let them know what they said and called me that day in school and for days after that. That all those years ago it hurt badly. As God has healed me. So as I am able to talk to them today when I see any of them. And because I asked God to help me forgive them. Years after I got saved. If I not asked God to help me forgive them. I not be able to talk to any of them I see today. It say in God word we are to forgive. Ephesians 4 verse 32 it says”And be Kind to one another Tenderhearted Forgiving one another even as God in Christ Forgave You.” How true that is. It is in God word. So we the saved have to do it. Even if someone or some people have said something very hurtful to us or behind our backs. Then we find out. Even if not through them but through someone else.
They are saved or not saved. It doesn’t annoy us. As we have forgiven them. And this song is so true you get it on YouTube. It a song I learnt in Sunday school when small. It might not be in the right order. But here is some of it as best I can remember it. In the order I remember it. It is also true for us saved Adults today as well as kids that are saved. It is “Be careful little eyes what you see there is a Father up above who is watching.” Then it says sort of the same thing in the song to do with the tounge when we speak. Then our hands and ears too” So it is a very good song. The words are so true. Even if people who like the people who said horrible words to me and about you all those years ago me when at school. Don’t ever say sorry or don’t just think what they have done is wrong. Even if it is years and years ago Or they don’t remember doing it. Because it was that long ago. At least by Forgiving them. You know you have asked God to help you do that. You know that you have done what is right in God’s eyes as Christian. No matter what Jesus will smile on us and say I am proud of you for doing that. Forgiving them. Even if they never ask you to forgive them or God. Or they don’t remember it. You can also smile to yourself say I am glad I done the right thing in God’s eyes. You will feel so much better in yourself. Thank you Tasha for sharing your story on words. What you shared about what happened too you. God will bless you for doing that. In my prayers and so are you all incourage. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Dawn, thank you for your kind words. I’m so sorry for the things spoken over you, but I’m grateful for what God has done and how God has healed you. I love those verses in Ephesians – they are on repeat in our home as a reminder to our kids and ourselves. I need all the reminders I can get. Grateful for your heart and that you are part of this community.
Robin Dance says
As an utterly unabashed words girl, I can SO relate to your thoughts here. Yes, I’ve been imprisoned by what others say, and it helps me to be reminded about what our sweet Father says about me and over me <3. Being in the Word is one way, but another is to read the stories of my friends <3. Thank you for taking time to urge us to GOOD WORDS, those we keep, and those we give away. xoxo
Thank you, dear Robin. I am with you, 100%. You use your words for good so well, friend.
Tasha I appreciate your transparency and heart.
I am concerned about your ststement that we are living in a society of systemic racism.
I am sure you have suffered greatly by racist individuals in your lifetime and I am truly sorry for the pain that must have caused you.
However, to say that we are a systemically racist society is harmful and hurtful to the Church body. We are not a perfect people but most of us are striving to live a life of love and grace. Our desire is to glorify God with everything we are. When we are lumped into a broad category which represents a hateful way of treating people, we are as harmed by that as those who mistreat others because they are of a different race.
Please prayerfully re-evaluate systemic racism. You have a wonderful gift of writing and a platform to do so much good.
Karen Knowles says
Jen, I totally agree with your comments.
Shari A. Grayczyk says
I totally agree with your comments; I read everything and loved it, and then…..I saw the ‘systemic racism’ comment, and literally had to re-read everything because it immediately slipped away and was overtaken by the opinion, instead of the fact. Tasha, please, please consider your opinions in articles of such great insight, and realize how hurtful comments like such can be. You definitely have a wonderful gift for writing.
Please explain the intention behind your comments as it comes off as if you are scolding Tasha for being honest and authentic about her life experiences. To deny that systemic racism exists is to deny the experiences of those impacted by it. We can’t change something by denying it exists. I believe if Jesus was walking among us in this time and place he would have been speaking out against systemic racism and we should be doing the same as followers of Christ.
Tasha thank you for being brave and for sharing your story.
Thank you, Geralyn.
Hi Jen, thanks for your kind words. I’m glad the article spoke to you and I’m glad you are part of our (in)courage community. As for your concerns about my word usage of “systemic racism,” I wanted to briefly respond. I write this with love, but want you to know that I used that term as one example because I believe (and have for many years) that it’s not only a real concept or theory, but a reality we live with, and something that impacts our witness as believers. To deny it is to deny the experience of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ -not to mention our ability to see and truly love those who are impacted by it daily and generationally.
Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. Blessings to you.
As a (very) white mother of one Black son and two Asian children, I have had a very unique glimpse at our society and the church. Many do not realize I am the mother of my children and show their deep seated ignorance and sometimes outright racist true colors. The deep seated ignorance I speak of is just one piece of the evidence of systemic racism. To deny the existence of systemic racism is to deny the reality my children live everyday. I myself was so unaware of my own privilege as well as the deep roots that permeate the world (and, yes, the church… even scripture shows Paul and others reprimanding the church for racism)… until I was forced to see it by the impact on my children. Thank you, Tasha, for not shying away from what many of us know personally is true.
Well said! Thank you for your reply. I have had similar experiences with my son, it helps to be open about these issues.
My first comment is to thank you for bringing up a very important talking and teaching point. We “all” need to be aware of what comes out of our mouths. I can’t remember where but the Bible tells us that from our mouths comes what is in our hearts. We must be ever vigilant about this as the ones growing up around us take their cue from us.
I think that the term systemic racism has taken on new meaning. Many of us think that it merely means that our common system is broken. But I think it is more harmful than that. It implies intention to be racist. I’m sure there are some that go in that direction but remember that kind of hatred is taught. It does not just happen accidentally. My thought is that there are many and maybe not enough, that just view people as people and ignore skin color. Hard as that is to do unless we are blind, I believe that we must practice what we preach. Another lesson in the Bible is to always look for the good because the bad is easy to see.
I know I should have verses for you to back up my comments but this way you can look them up and verify for yourself what is true or not. We must not ever just accept what someone else says. Do your homework to make sure you are not being led astray.
Keep up the good work as we all have a race to run.
I also have to ask what is the intention behind your comments?
“Ignoring” someone’s skin color is “ignoring” who that person is and what they have experienced. Yes our souls have no color or form but the simple truth is our human bodies do. And people of color do experience racism. We can’t ignore or deny that. We have to speak about it to make a positive change for our children and their children.
You are correct. When I said ignoring skin color it was not to diminish anyone but we should not judge anyone including white people by colors of skin. In my family we are all colors and have dealt with many issues due to that. Yet we continue to trust in God that sees us as we are. Sinners in need of a Savior.
This topic will always be a divider if we allow it to be. That is satans best weapon. Division and anger. Let’s all remember who died to set us free from “all” sin and rejoice and be glad.
We all have opinions and believe our opinions to be right so which one is ultimately correct?
My brother always said there are three sides to every story. Your side, my side and the truth.
When we treat everyone the way we want to be treated then we are doing God’s will. And as for Christ speaking out against racism – He did. It’s also called sin. Racism isn’t new. Let’s not forget that slavery has been around since the dawn of time. Moses fought with Pharaoh to set the Israelites free. So my hope is that we will remember Dr King and judge one another by our character and actions and not by our outward looks. Skin color is not the only thing we separate people by. We look at tattoos and piercings and hair colors ( the unnatural ones) clothes, etc.
Most of all let us love one another unconditionally.
This is why words are important. We know what we mean but sometimes they don’t express those thoughts the way we want them to. So please forgive me if my words have offended anyone, they were not intended to.
Beth Williams says
The adage “sticks & stones may break my bones but words will never hurt” is an outright lie. Words can be deadly. We not only have to watch what we say but the tone we use. Must be gentle & kind like sweet honey. Knowing how words demoralize me & get me thinking wrong thoughts I use my words judiciously. Plus I realize someone may be having a bad day, or just not feeling well-thus the reasons for their actions.
I work in a hospital (ICU Step down clerical). Every day I do my utmost to thank my co–workers for helping with the patients & family care. Wanting them to know that if no one else notices I do & you are doing a good job. Just my way of brightening their day.
Beth, I love that – being kind and gentle like sweet honey. Amen. I also love how you seek to assume the best and give others the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure you shine like a light in that hospital and I hope you know how much it matters.
Sandy Groves says
God Bless your Heart!
So many have experienced
The same type of thing.
It does hurt so badly too!
Thank God Jesus is there
To direct & love You through
May God Hold You in His Loving
Thank you, Sandy!
This can also be not speaking words that encourage and uplift. At 45 years old, I do not ever remember anyone (aside from my husband) in my immediate family telling me “I love you” “I’m proud of you” “I’m here for you” or anything else affirming.
The absence of those words has left deep and permanent damage that I’m still trying to beat.
Tracy, I’m so sorry no one told you they loved you or that they were proud of you. I pray God would provide the truth of that in abundance. You are loved. God looks at you with delight. He’s with you and will always be with you. You make God beam and you carry a reflection of Him in your precious face and presence. Praying for healing and wholeness for you right now.
Tasha – thank you for sharing your experience. I am sorry some comments just focus on the term “systemic racism” and not the intention behind your post. Our words can uplift or do great harm as can our values and the systems in place.
Please continue to be a voice for those who don’t know they have the “right” to use theirs.
We are set apart! Unique, regardless of words we may choose to describe it (or us.) My focus “one word” from your post will be: “Masterpiece”. That we are set apart & viewed perfect by God in His grace as Jesus is interceding. We are loved by God, regardless of what we look like.
May God bless us in this now world of separation and judgement. We have no business talking about it. This is very much a negative. Our focus should be on positives: …whatever is true, pure, noble, lovely, righteous, excellent and praiseworthy. May God bless us and may we remain His Masterpiece.
Carol Brown says
These is a powerful reminder of how venomous casual words can be. I am trying to practice the pause–waiting before I speak for a second or 2. This is not easy because I am an extrovert and the words just flow. Thank you.