Last February I had my World History classes each get out a blank piece of paper and tear it in half. Next I instructed them to write down a positive thing someone had said to them in the last few weeks (or months, or the school year) on one of the pieces and something negative someone had said to them on the other. They hemmed and hawed and had an overall relatively difficult time coming up with things. When everyone had something written on both pieces I asked them to raise their hand if the negative thing had been easier to think of. In both classes, over 50% of the students raised their hands. I then launched into some brief stories of negative things from my childhood playground days that have stuck with me all these years and then told them this:
“I want you to remember two things this week: Number 1 – YOUR WORDS MATTER! Your words have an impact on others and every time you say something negative it sticks, sadly often it sticks longer than anything positive you might say. And Number 2 – DON’T BECOME BITTER! Bitterness doesn’t hurt the other person. They have probably moved on with their life and completely forgotten what they said or did to make you angry/hurt your feelings/etc. Being bitter about something turns you into someone that nobody else wants to be around. Being bitter hurts you, not the person who offended you. You become sad, depressed, angry, lonely…so please don’t be bitter people.”
Next I had them each read a different verse from Scripture all about how we should use our words and not be bitter. Take Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but ONLY what is helpful for building others up according to THEIR needs, that it may BENEFIT those who listen.”
Or Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of ALL bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, justas in Christ God forgave you.”
The Proverbs are covered in verses about how to use our words wisely, like Proverbs 12:18, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” And Proverbs 15:1 & 4, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger…The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Or Proverbs 29:20, “Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
Hebrews 12:14-15 says this, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
I could go on and on with more specific examples from Scripture but I’ll leave it off there. If you have made it this far in my post, congratulations! I, myself, probably would have stopped reading after I realized how much of a time commitment it would be sooooo, back at “…A Lesson Plan by Me.” Haha. Thank you for sticking with me and taking the time out of your day to read my thoughts.
For those who are wondering, no, this was not sparked by all the political controversy. It was sparked by some things going on at school, however, it helped remind me that my words MATTER and I can’t become a bitter person because it will only serve to hurt me more. I thought maybe, just maybe, if I needed the reminder myself, maybe I’m not alone and others could use the reminder too.
So I leave you like I left my students, if you remember nothing else today, remember these two things:
1. YOUR WORDS MATTER. They affect people in ways you may not ever realize so choose wisely what you choose to allow to come out of your mouth.
2. Don’t become bitter. Don’t let bitterness consume you and cause trouble in your life.