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BLOG: Ugly Words

We were at the store with two separate orders so she tried to speed up the process by going to a different checkout lane. I watched as Abi walked a short distance and fell into line with a few other people. After that, I turned my attention to my own items.

Several minutes later, I glanced up to check on her and our eyes met. She was done and waiting. I completed my transaction and we headed to the truck to make our way home. As we walked through the doors into the early evening air, she suddenly spoke up.

"You missed some pretty mean people in that line I went to."

Confused, I looked over at her, but the required mask made her difficult to read. So I asked, "What made you think they were mean?"

She laughed a little and said, "The things they were saying and then laughing about. And they werereallylaughing. Like the bent over kind of laughter."

One problem with being a foreigner in Thailand is many people assume you can't speak any Thai and so they talk about you right in front of you. They sometimes say things people generally wait to say until the person is out of ear shot. Don't mistake me ... by and large, most people are nice to us. There are very few times where this happens in a hurtful way. Mostly they just refer to us asfarangsor wonder aloud what we're doing here. But occasionally we encounter a person when they're in just the right (or wrong) mood.

Yesterday, those young people were laughing and talking about my daughter and saying she wasn't pretty and other unkind things. She laughed it off, knowing better than to let an experience like that rent space in her head. And yet, it stung. Nobody wants to hear things like that said about themselves. Most of the time the ability to speak increasingly decent Thai is an asset for our kids; every now and then it's not.

One thing God has been showing me since this incident occurred, however, is that words matter. Not just when you're saying them to or about someone, but when you're evenentertainingthem in our minds. As Christians, we ought to be holding ourselves to a very high standard.

And yet, we don't do so as we should.

There are about as many professing Christian gossips in the church as there areoutsidethe church. We use words that sting, we spout off without considering the damage we might be causing, and we create a stumbling block for others who don't know how to handle our gossiping ways. And it starts in our thoughts.

It's ugly and it's also rampant. The problem is, we don't often recognize how horrible it is until we're the victims of it. Shame on us.

Scripture tells us"a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."Proverbs 25:11. I came across that text when I was a new Christian and it's been a favorite since. It's a beautiful, gentle reminder of just how important the words we choose to speak are.

I cringe to think of the number of times throughout my life I've spoken in haste, hurting someone. Or where I've said something that cast another in an unlovely light. Or when I've allowed criticism of a person to first grow in my heart and then leak onto some unsuspecting listener. We, humans, are rough on each other.

We offer ourselves the grace we ought to instead be offering others. We wink at our own shortcomings while magnifying those of our family, friends, and strangers ... or even people in line with us in a grocery store.

It wasn't lovely what happened yesterday. I wish my beautiful, sweet daughter hadn't had to endure such an experience and yet I'm praying God will use it for good. Because those young people were almost certainly not Christians since there's about a 1% population of believers in this country. We can offer them grace because they likely haven't met our gentle Shepherd.

But if this experience keeps her from ever misrepresenting His loving heart by uttering an unkind word against someone, regardless of if they can hear it or not, it will have all been worth it.

And I hope the sharing of it will cause both you and I to pause so we can ask God to keep us from doing the same!



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