I’ll never forget my experience with improper wording at my Latino friend’s wedding. I meant well, but when I used the phrase “work ethnic” instead of “work ethic” — several times — I was mortified as my friends howled with laughter. I was lucky they didn’t make me the piñata. I was not trying to say anything about our different ethnicities, but what I said came out embarrassingly wrong.
Words Worth Saying
Our words and phrases usually reflect what we are thinking about. At the wedding, I was thinking about all the ethnically different traditions, but my words betrayed my thoughts. It is important to guard the thoughts of our minds and the words of our mouth, lest we say something that really does not honor God. When we are in a hurry or having a hard time, it is easy to forget to guard our mind and words.
I have said the following phrases without even thinking about what I am really saying. As you read the list, evaluate whether or not the phrase honors God and displays faith in Him:
1) “I can’t take another thing.”
In 2009, my husband and I bought an older home that needed updating. Of course, our plans to make a seamless transition did not work out so smoothly. We had to be out of our old house just weeks before the new one was ready, so we stored our furniture and moved in with my parents — with three kids, two dogs and a cat.
I didn’t pack any medicines for the kids or many clothes because I thought we would only be there for a couple of weeks. Two weeks turned into two months, and in that time, my son was hospitalized with a serious staff infection, my daughter broke her wrist, and the cat ran away. I couldn’t find anything I ever looked for, and when the season changed, I had no access to my fall clothes. More importantly, neither did my teenage daughter.
I remember saying, “I can’t take another thing!” And I meant it.
Maybe you know the feeling. This is precisely the time we must draw close to God and use words of faith, instead of exasperation. It surely would have made my situation easier to handle if I had thought and used words of hope.
Thinking and saying, “I can handle whatever God calls me to,” helps us surrender to what God has ordained for our situation, often preventing further problems. Even if the situation goes from bad to worse, we can better handle it if our thoughts and words express faith in God who gives strength. Surrendering helps us stop focusing on the bad and start looking for God’s provision and blessings.
2) “Nothing good ever happens to me.”
When I was a senior in college, I broke up with the guy I planned to marry. The pain of it blinded me to the truth that God desires to bless us and intends good things for our lives. He has a purpose for each life and works good in every disappointment. Looking back, I see God used it to teach me about relationships, and the painful breakup helped prepare me for a happy marriage. Without that experience, I don’t think I would appreciate and value my husband as I do.
When we are hurting, it’s easy to forget that God gives hope, not despair. But when Christians use the phrase, “Nothing good ever happens to me,” we’re saying we do not expect good gifts from God. It takes faith to expect God’s good purpose, even when we are disappointed.
Instead, we can say, “God is my help” or “God will provide” and wait for Him to act.
3) “Nothing will ever change.”
Some people have the luxury of family planning, but not us. I had three babies in three years. We had a 2 year-old and then twins, planning none of it but thankful for all of it. After a few years of laundry, chaotic, unfinished meals, and being convinced the house would never be clean all at once — ever — it seemed like the dial was permanently set on “too busy.”
Now, there are three empty places at the table (a little lonely, but at least I don’t have to cook), and the house stays neat and clean. I am left with an empty nest and a new role. It really is a big change, though it seemed like it would never come. My three-in-three children did permanently alter my life, but now my circumstances have indeed changed again.
Change is something we can count on, and it’s why God’s unchanging nature draws us to Him. In our ever-shifting world, He is our rock to hold onto, our firm foundation. Your painful or stressful situation will change eventually. God moves us on, but He rarely does it early or fast.
4) “No one has ever had my problem.”
When I was young, I was painfully shy and uncomfortable around new people. My sister was the opposite; she could talk to anybody and even carry on several conversations at one time. To this day I have never seen her at a loss for words.
It seemed as though nobody else around me had this problem — like my parents, my sister or my friends. I felt alone. Eventually, I grew past my shyness only to find that many people felt just like me; I was blind and unaware anyone else suffered as I did.
We all share in the human experience. No one suffers anything that is uncommon to man (1 Corinthians 10:13). When we focus on our circumstances or how we feel, we lose sight of our Maker. Though at times we may feel isolated and alone, God says He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Our words need to reflect that promise. He also promises to bear our weaknesses and sufferings, but do our words show that we really believe Him?
5) “I am just a worrier, I can’t help it.”
Jesus disagrees with all of us worrywarts on this one. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “ I tell you, do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25). We have a choice to make: hope or despair, trust or anxiety. He is calling us to trust Him in problems big and small. Jesus wouldn’t tell us to do something we cannot do; He is offering us His power to live in faith beyond fear and worry. This starts in our thoughts and is displayed by the way we talk.
Think back over the last week. Evaluate the words and phrases you used and why you said them. Think about what your words actually say about who God is and your trust in Him. Take every chance you get to paint a beautiful and accurate picture of God with your words.