Day 7: The power of the tongue

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“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.” ~Proverbs 18:21

It tastes like honey in the mouth, when you say exactly what you meant to say at exactly the right moment. When the words floating in your head gather themselves on a string and fall out of your mouth, wrapping themselves around the neck of another. It tastes like honey until you see the hurt on their face, the way the words tighten like a choke-hold, the way they cut off the oxygen in room. They taste sweet when they flow over your tongue, but a bitter aftertaste lingers when you realize the damage they’ve done. You wish you’d taken the whole of them and eaten the words instead.

We talk a lot about speaking life in our home, mainly because we have a kid who uses their words like a knife to cut everyone else down to size. We say use your words to build others up, child. Use your words to encourage, to protect, to string pearls of grace around your sibling’s neck rather than a noose. We know the power of life and death in the tongue because we see how cruel words cause our other children to wither under their weight.

I died a thousand deaths on the inside while watching my one of my kids suffer at the mouth of the other. I curled up next to my husband in bed and sobbed over it. I lost sleep and shouted and threatened and punished. I quoted scripture. I prayed. I washed mouths out with soap, repeatedly. I railed at said kid and the heavens and almost anyone who would listen. I gave them a taste of the fruit their words produced, which, surprisingly did not work. Note to self: behaving like your child does not increase their obedience or respect for you. It just makes you look stupid. Which you are. I begged God for peace in my home. And slowly, ever so slowly, I see our labor and prayers bearing good fruit.

We see the occasional biting of the tongue, the swallowing of bitter words. We see small signs of healing in the heart of the hurting kid, and growth in the heart of the one causing the pain. We see an infinitesimal shifting of words from death to life, and we cling to it. We want our children to understand the power and taste the fruit of their words. We want them to sow life into everyone they meet and quite honestly, this is an ongoing struggle in our family. Maybe it’s a struggle in your family too.

Join me tomorrow and we’ll talk about the three strategies we found work best as we teach our kids about the power of their words.


This post is the 7th in a series called 31 Days of Speaking Life. Want to know more about the 31 Days writing challenge? Hop on over here. Want to receive these posts via email straight into your inbox? Sign up below.

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