This blog will be an eye opener for many of you. If you know me, you will understand my being timid about sharing this. Allow me to ask you to read it to the end. I serve a redeeming God. And I have been redeemed.
There was a time in my life when I was very careless with my words. I was a well-intentioned person, I was gifted and the recipient of abundant blessings.
I was also a verbal abuser. Even though it wasn’t recognized back then like it is today, my words could wreck a peaceful atmosphere in seconds. I could eviscerate those closest to me, I could wither my critics with a barrage of hateful and hate filled words designed to silence anyone who would dare to contradict anything I said. I destroyed one marriage and came chillingly close to destroying my own life.
Today, I continue to seek repair and reconciliation with my children due to those days. We have made great progress and I see their willingness to forgive and my continuing repentance as reason for hope that eventually God will completely restore my relationships. My ex-wife and I are now dear friends, and I know and feel the forgiveness of God. Even though I have remarried and have the most wonderful relationship with my wife Mary Ann, my ex and I realize that we continue to be and will always be the parents of our children and grandparents of our grandchildren. But it has taken it’s toll.
If I could go back and take all the harsh, hateful words back, I would RUN back and do so. But I can’t…I can’t retrieve the words I spoke. That’s because words are not mere sounds that hit the air. Words are containers of power. Both Good and Bad power. God created the world with power filled WORDS.
It is obvious from the world we live in that “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!” is not the truth. Words Can Kill. Words don’t stop when they are spoken, their damage continues to rip through our lives and our minds like a hollow point bullet, tearing and blasting our Psyches for decades.
This is why it is so important today, at the beginning of the year that you make this the Year of Mindful Speaking…speaking words that will build up and not tear down. Words over your children that bless them, that encourage them, that lead them to trust in authority and believe in goodness and right things. Words over your spouse that enhances their life and doesn’t fill them with insecurity or angst about the future.
Speaking blessing over your spouse, over your job, over your employer and fellow employees. Saying encouragement, hope, and believing the best. It is a sign of maturity that we pause…before we speak. It is adulthood, to not say something when we feel the heat of anger coming upon us, but to wait until we can control our spirits, and then, with love, respond, even if that response has to be corrective. Oh yes, we most certainly can correct, we can reprove (Reprove is a verb used in the same way as “scold,” or “dress down.” To reprove is to express your dissatisfaction or disapproval with something) without destroying the spirit of another person.
Why do you suppose that after having turned from my foolish past behavior, that would God release me to inspire and encourage others?
You were not there my friend when I spent many a night in brokenness on my living room floor experiencing the excruciating pain that comes when you realize that you have pulled the trigger that destroyed the people closest to you. You were not there sitting cold on the floor of a rented house contemplating your own demise. The horrible self hatred that my enemy tired to pull over my face like a blanket and suffocate me with. When, at one of my most desperate moments, I saw my Bible sitting on the shelf, and with one final reach, pulled it down and read the scripture,
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 New Living Translation.
Allow me to answer my own question as to why God has allowed me to do what I do.
It is because encouragement and inspiration are the exact opposites of verbal condemnation. It is because, God wants to actively redeem the gift that He placed in me and wants that gift to produce blessing and not cursing. It is because I was not born an abuser. We are born with the giftings of God upon our lives that the enemy of our souls tries to steal.
We are born with the whisper of a hope that the little personalities we have been given will bloom under the careful watering of our parents and the Holy Spirit and produce a world of great peace and blessing for others. I was no different. I was born a lover, a child who would crawl up on the lap of any stranger and hug and kiss them.
My parents were even a bit embarrassed by my behavior as a tiny boy. I was born to love and embrace. I was born to be accepting and caring. I was not a rough tough cowboy like John Wayne…I was Gene Autry a singing cowboy.
But somewhere along the way, something went terribly wrong. The record that was to be written upon with love and care, was scratched by abusive, hate-filled and wreckless words. The words from family, friends, teachers, coaches, church leaders and classmates…all took the shine off the record and it began to skip. And, in all openness and honesty, I chose to become bitter.
In my 20’s I joined an organization that was quite heavy handed with me when it came to my Christian walk. Nothing was good enough…and due to poor decisions on my part, instead of correcting the error within the organization, I also became very rigid and inflexible. My decision made me judgmental and proud. It stomped the life right out of my loving tender nature. You can’t be loving and tender if you’re taking the world for Jesus…right? So much for youthful zeal and wisdom! I HAVE forgiven, and today, those who made errorsand spoke harshly over my life have repented and we are close friends. But this is how harsh words can affect our lives. Even well intentioned, the right words with a harsh spirit make for bad results and can take us off track for years!
If you want to know how to stop a life of love and service, if you want to know how to insure a child never fulfills his or her potential, if you wish to make the future of a child shame filled and with no confidence…use withering words and attack their character. Tell them they are useless. Tell them they were a mistake. Tell them that you wish they had never been born. Tell the child that God destined to influence others with love and unconditional acceptance, that they are going to be trouble for the rest of their lives. Say it in anger, make sure you scream at them. That will do the job. That will do the very job you intend it to.
I do not use my hurtful past as an excuse. But once you have come out from under the cloud, by forgiveness, by the power of The Holy Spirit, God transforms even older children like me. He gives us eyes to see again and a heart to feel again. This is what repentance brings. It brings beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the cloak of praise instead of the hateful, vengeful spirit of heaviness. Instead of using my tongue for angry words, the Lord has graciously given me a pen. He has allowed me to see in the Spirit the needs of others. It’s why I can walk into a crowd and zero in on hurt and place bandages on it. It’s why hurting people are placed around me and my friend, God wants to do it with you too. IF you will only let Him. If you will only throw out the bitterness of years past and embrace the new things.
It is why I can now, by the goodness of God, that I can begin to encourage the broken-hearted person. ME, The breaker of hearts, being used as a healer. Binding up the brokenhearted, doing it in secret. Visiting the forgotten, using my mouth to bless and love. You don’t realize my gentle reader, how wonderful it is to be able to HUG people again! You cannot fathom the feeling of being let out of prison.
This is why I write and catalogue my life. It’s because I have experienced the forgiveness and have been let out of my cage of anger. It is because I can now see with such joy all the beautiful people in the earth that have a calling on their life. It is because I know what many of you may have missed.
That God will use even the filthiest of us after he has cleaned us up to be a golden vessel.
He will take the abused and the abuser, and if they are willing, God will transform them into powerful examples of His Glory and Might.
I had two people write to me on my birthday this year, the same scripture. One of them…my former wife. They said, “this is your scripture this year”. Know what it was?
““The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”…” Isaiah 61:1
This year, the day after Christmas, I turned 61. There is nothing magical or mystical about that. But I write this blog today, to be totally transparent with you. And to demonstrate that if God can use, a wretched man, like I used to be…Oh my friend, How greatly can God, if you are willing, use you?!