Wounded with Words?

Ephesians 4:29 ‘Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up, that it may benefit those who listen.’

This scripture cuts straight to the heart. Right to the core. Ouch!

I’m reminded of it when I’m tempted to say something unwholesome. But I’m often reminded of it after I’ve already said something unwholesome.

But what about when someone else gushes out the unwholesome talk? What do you do with this truth when someone else is not building you up? Maybe it feels like you’re being torn down instead.

Your spouse mutters something harsh.

Your child spurts out sass.

Your co-worker offends you.

Your neighbor calls you a name I can’t type out on this blog.

Yes. We’ve all had someone speak unwholesome words to us.

I want to bring up this verse to them in that moment. I yearn to spout off the memorized words as a rebuttal!

Don’t you know what God’s word says about how you’re speaking to me? Don’t you know how you’re coming across?

I open my Bible so I can see the verse up close–rubbing my finger across these powerful words. The whole time thinking that I deserve to be built up instead of torn down.

I’ve been the one to speak unwholesome words before.

But not this time.

I’ve been hurt with harsh words. Sassy words. Offensive words. Words that cut deep to my core. I even let out a prayer that goes something like this:

Jesus, I’m so upset right now. Did you hear what he/she said to me? Did you see that play out? Do you know how I feel right now?

Turning to verse Ephesians 4:29, I read it again. Feeling justified with how this person has indeed spoken unwholesome words to me, I let out a sigh.

Keep reading, Lisa.

What, Lord??

Keep going, there’s more.

Just three verses away from verse 29, I read verse 32. It knocks the breath out of me. I didn’t know this verse was here. 

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

After I let this powerful truth sink in, I realize something. Verse 32 is written on the tails of verse 29 for a reason. Don’t miss this!

Other people will speak unwholesome words to us. Other people will sometimes tear us down.

Yes, the standard is to speak wholesome words. Yes, the command is to build up.

But we live in a fallen world. We are surrounded by other sinners. We are sinners.

So when other people don’t live up to verse 29, I’m commanded to forgive them in verse 32. I might expect my loved ones to model verse 29, but I should be willing to forgive with the truth from verse 32.

I love how God inspired Paul to write these verses in this specific order! We should strive to weigh our words carefully. We should pray for our loved ones to do the same.

But when they don’t…(not IF!)

We go to the feet of Jesus and humbly ask him for the power and strength to FORGIVE.

There are times when we need to hold people accountable for their words.  Times to discipline children for their words. And sometimes people seek help for verbally abusive situations.

But ultimately we are still called to forgive.

It’s hard and I don’t always feel like doing it.

In those moments, we are given the choice to surrender our wounded heart to the one who forgave and continues to forgive us.

What about you? Do you struggle with speaking unwholesome words? How do you respond when someone speaks unwholesome words to you?

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

The Truth About Telemarketers

I was right-smack in the middle of fixing dinner. I’d rushed in after a long afternoon of running errands. My daughter demanded something. My husband asked me a question. Feeling stressed to the max, the phone rang. Seriously? Who would think to call me now? At this moment? Didn’t they know this was the hour of chaos for all moms across the country?

I didn’t recognize the number and was tempted to just let it ring.

What if it’s a business call for my husband? What if it’s something urgent?  I picked up the phone. But when I heard the perky, unfamiliar voice on the other end immediately go into a  spiel for a security system on sale, I knew I’d made a mistake!

Another telemarketer. Another interruption. Something else to get on my nerves! I certainly didn’t have time for this. I cut her off quickly with a not-so-friendly tone of voice. She could probably feel the steam rising from my words boiling over.

“I’m NOT interested and I’m BUSY!” Click.

I abruptly hung up–letting out a groan for being interrupted. My time was valuable and I didn’t like to give it up. Returning to the mess in my kitchen, I sighed about how much I still needed to do.

But then I heard that familiar, gentle whisper from God. I didn’t want to listen. But I paused in the middle of my messed up kitchen and this is what I heard:

Lisa, that telemarketer has a name. You don’t know it, but I do. She is a real person, just like you. She is stressed out, just like you. She has a family, just like you. She is only doing her job the best she can.

Ouch. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, this was the truth.

This telemarketer (and all the other ones too) was only doing her job. This might be the only job she could get. Maybe she was limited to this inconvenient shift. Or maybe she was a single mom working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Here I was complaining about my dinner preparations being interrupted and she most likely would be eating dinner alone at her desk. Was this the norm for her? Did she ever get to eat dinner with her family?

As I put the final touches on dinner, I truly felt convicted for my thoughts and attitudes towards her.

Jesus calls us to love our neighbor. Yeah, I get that.

But I’ve always limited it to people I can physically see with my eyes. I’d much rather leave it at that and put telemarketers into a different category. But the more I ponder this command, I believe it also applies to the people I can’t see. To the people on the other end of my phone. (Whether it’s a feisty telemarketer or customer service rep who’s being difficult!)

This is a tough truth I’m having a hard time embracing! My flesh says it’s no big deal. My flesh says I’m taking this love thing way too far.

But my spirit calls me to love those who cross my path. Even if that path is a phone conversation with someone I’ll never see face-to-face. God made each human being in his own image. An eternal soul. And we are simply called to love. Period.

The next time I’m caught off guard with a telemarketer I pray I’ll respond differently. Before speaking harshly or hanging up in a fury, I could pause and pray. I don’t have to purchase something or make a donation, but it does mean I speak with respect. With dignity.

And just maybe, my words will be the only bright spot in their day. They’ll get plenty of ugly words from the rest of the world.

I don’t want to be like the rest of the world! I truly want to be characterized by loving others. Jesus said it was LOVE that would point others to him. It’s LOVE that will stand out above everything else.

Dear friend, I pray you too will let love shine through all your phone conversations. Especially the ones you least expect.

John 13:35 “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

What’s on Your Playlist?

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

If you must run to music, then your Ipod or MP3 player is essential.  Specific songs are selected with the intent of motivating—pumping you up when you need it most. Just when you feel that all too familiar slump coming over you, one of your favorite tunes blasts away. Suddenly your mood is lifted and you feel new energy rising through every weary muscle of your body. The driving beat ignites your determination to keep going. Before you know it, you’re running to the rhythm of the music and you have no intention of slowing down. Song after song keeps you going until you’ve reached your goal.

These songs on your playlist are carefully chosen. Not just any song will do! Can you imagine choosing songs with negative lyrics? Words that would tear you down? Insult you? Words of discouragement?  Would you choose lullabies? Blues or slow-dance songs? Of course not! You’ll choose songs with a driving beat. Songs with powerful words. Songs designed especially with running in mind. What we listen to plays a huge part in how we run our race.

And so it is in our race of faith. What we choose to fix our mind on determines our thoughts. Our thoughts determine our attitudes. Our attitudes shape our behavior. And ultimately our behavior molds our character.

There are multiple voices clamoring for our attention daily: television, Internet, radio, and especially other people. We also hear whispers from within our own ugly flesh and from the enemy. The voices we embrace are like the songs we choose to include on our playlists. When life gets tough and our weary soul can’t go another step, what messages are going to blast into our mind? We have a choice as to which ones we’ll tune into. If we listen to the negative talk of the world, we’ll surely wear down and lose our momentum. But if we purposely choose to listen to God’s gentle—yet powerful—voice, His truth will ignite our determination to persevere in His strength. It’s critical that we tuck away truth into our mind so we don’t fall for the lies of this world. When we feel a slump coming on, whatever is downloaded on our mental playlist determines whether we’ll slow down or keep going.

Consider carefully what you download onto the playlist of your mind. Because ultimately what goes into your mind will affect your soul.  And the condition of your soul determines how you will spend the life God has graciously given you.

READY? Take a moment to reflect on the playlist of your mind. Which voices are the loudest? Are there any voices you need to delete? Ask God to guide you as you evaluate what you’ve been listening to.

GET SET. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

GO! Heavenly Father, help me choose truth in the midst of this world’s negativity. It’s often hard to decipher through multiple voices calling out to me. Help me embrace your word and make it my filter. May your truth guide me all day long and lift me up when things get rough. Praise you that your truth trumps all the lies of the world. Amen

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett