(Disclaimer – I don’t really believe that all parents are liars. It just seems that I get more readers if the title of my blog is more provocative. If I knew how to make a smiley face 🙂 I would put one here.)
Parents often lie to their children. I know that is a shocking statement, but it is true, isn’t it? While I could talk about various myths that we promote at certain holidays, I will refrain in case one of your children might choose to read this blog, but you get my drift. Then we take them to the doctor to get their vaccinations, and what do we tell them? It won’t hurt. Listen, as a grown man who is allergic to needles, I can tell you that is a lie straight from the pits of hell. I don’t care how good you are at giving shots, needles are torture. Don’t even suggest acupuncture to me! But the biggest lie of all – the one that we may even sing to our children – is this: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Oh, I know we mean well. We simply want to toughen up our kids and make them impervious to the pain that words cause, but there it is. Words cause pain because words are powerful.
From the beginning of time, the Bible has made that clear. Words of blessing brought peace, joy, and prosperity. Words of cursing brought pain and devastation. The same is true today even though we don’t call them blessings and curses. Watch a child as he is being berated by a bully of a parent – told that he is worthless, good for nothing, stupid, etc. As each word enters his heart, it is like a physical blow landing on his body causing pain every time and leaving scars that will last a lifetime. Those words can never be taken back, and too often, those words are never forgotten. Even as the child progresses into adulthood, the memories of those verbal beatings stay with him, shaping his self-esteem and affecting his ability to reach his ultimate potential. “You aren’t good enough!” “You will never amount to anything!” Those words echo in his heart and mind taking him back to those early moments when he was helpless and hopeless.
As we get older, we do get a little tougher, but words still have the power to bring harm. A bit of gossip, or as we Baptists like to call it, an extremely detailed prayer request, can often lead to issues that rapidly get out of control – like a wildfire that begins with a tiny spark, unintended in its origin, that engulfs entire forests destroying homes and lives. The apostle James warns us of that very real possibility. James 3:6 says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.” Our only hope is to gain control of this tiny part of our body and refuse to participate in what, to many people, turns into a game. Who can get the word out first? Who can make it as juicy as possible? Maybe, instead of trying to toughen people up, instead of telling them to just ignore it, instead of saying, “Well, that’s just the way he is…,” why don’t we try this. The next time someone tries to share a little gossip with us, put your hand up and sing, “Oh be careful little mouth what you say. Oh be careful little mouth what you say. For the Father up above is looking down with love. Oh be careful little mouth what you say!”