I was old enough to know better, but young enough to not understand how three words could burn the heart of a young mother. I don’t remember why I spewed out “I hate you”, but it probably had something to do with her not letting me date at ten years old or wear red lipstick to Sunday school. Or maybe it was because my room was an array of scattered clothes and grown up wishes.
But I said them loud enough to pierce her tender heart and she walked away, silent. Later when the house was full of shadows, I heard footsteps down the hall. I followed my mother into the living room where I found her sitting in front of a bay window, crying. And they were just words, words that couldn’t have been further from the truth, but they throbbed inside my throat, and I wished I could take them back.
And words come too easy, not in the written form but in the speaking. They gurgle and spew, then flood the air. Sifting through them takes time and attention. And as our baby begins to talk and our oldest begins to text, we mull over words in our home. Are they encouraging? Are they necessary? What purpose do they serve?
And the ugliness of words can’t be tossed out at the end of the week; they’re carried from room to room and place to place. And they’re etched in mind and hearts. Sometimes it’s the lovely that is challenging to speak.
“I love you even though … I love you if … I love you to spite… ”
But those words linger when long days succumb to night. And the lovely plays over and over, softening souls and bandaging wounds.
Proverbs 13:3 – He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.