“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21a

Do you ever stop and think about the words you say in response to being offended, caught off guard, or when you’re in the midst of a conflict? Are you aware of any negative messages you’ve adopted because of words said to you by a parent, friend, or adversary?

Words can be helpful or hurtful, and it’s critical to both our emotional and relational health that we engage in a “regular checkup” to assess how our words and the words of others are affecting our hearts and minds.

Verbal abuse is a powerful weapon that can be used by a person attempting to control another person. Bruises heal, but emotional scars don’t heal as easily. Have you ever considered the damage you may be doing with your words? Or have you ever considered the damage that someone else’s words have done to you?

Having been exposed to verbal and emotional abuse at a young age, I understand the power of hurtful words and their long-lasting effects. The very first step in breaking the pattern of giving or receiving verbal abuse is to recognize its existence.

1) Do you respond to pain or disappointment by attacking someone with hurtful words?

2) Do you receive verbal attacks from people without standing up for yourself?

There’s no better time than the present to begin putting these destructive patterns away to begin responding in ways that bring hope and healing.

If you find it difficult to control your tongue, read and memorize Ephesians 4:29 and Matthew 12:37 and remind yourself to intentionally choose your words with care.

If you take in hurtful words and allow them to define or defeat you, memorize Psalm 1:1-2 and recite it each time you are tempted to believe the message of someone who has been hurtful with their words. Then pray about approaching this person with truth-in-love and implement appropriate boundaries that protect you from future offenses.

Join me today in analyzing the words you use and the words that have been used against you.

Remember to “let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth,

but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment,

so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)