Wednesday, January 29, 2014

O Be Careful, Little Mouth, What You Say

Speaking recklessly is like the thrusts of a sword,
but the words of the wise bring healing.
~ Proverbs 12:18, NET ~

Oh be careful little mouth what you say,
Oh be careful little mouth what you say,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So be careful little mouth what you say.
 (Children's Bible Song ~ Author Unknown)

We all know that parenting children is hard work.

Anyone who takes 5 seconds to notice, in merely a cursory way, realizes that raising a child with special needs presents even greater challenges.

Add to that the endlessly hurtful things people say to parents of such children, and well, now you have a good start at grasping why God established Snappin' Ministries.

Despite the fact that people said horrible things to me when my first marriage fell apart (My mother wins hands down with, "What did you do to that poor boy to make him leave you?"); despite the fact that people were completely devoid of compassion when I suffered multiple miscarriages (The winner in that category?  "Well, at least you know you can get pregnant!"); despite the fact that people had shockingly horrid things to say when we were enduring years of infertility ("You want kids?  I'll gladly give you mine!"  Nice woman, huh?); nothing could have prepared me for the painful things people would say once we became parents of first one, then two, then three children with special needs or chronic disorders.  I'll spare you the details as I might give root to an evil spirit of unforgiveness in myself.

Suffice it to say, a MAJOR source of the isolation special needs parents feel come from the hurtful words of others.  Speaking for myself, it has almost come to the point where I cannot even let people know what is going on with our family on social media because I will inevitably receive some snarky remark from others, publicly or privately.  These jabs come in some of the following ways:
  1. Spiritual superiority -- There are those who think that because you are being transparent, you are not godly.  Have these people ever read the Book of Psalms?  People who watch us want to know that our faith is REAL, not just some fake pretense.  In being authentic in our struggles, others learn that they can wrestle with their faith and still be loved by God.  What an awesome gift!  Yet, it is usually those who have not had their faith tested in the same way or those who don't want to have to feel guilty about never lifting a finger to help you that are quick to point out the fact that you are not "trusting God" to the extent they think you should be.
  2. "I have it worse than you do." -- These are people who somehow think life is a pain contest.  What they fail to realize is that your problems do not shrink just because they have problems too.  Often times, they will compare apples with oranges or the superficial with the serious.  They may not intend to, but these folks come across as minimizing your troubles.  The message behind the message sounds much like, "You have no right to complain/feel bad about/be concerned about/grieve over your situation."  They may as well call you a big cry baby to your face, because that's how it feels.  Talk about "thrusts like a sword"!
  3. "Your child doesn't have special needs.  You are a bad parent." -- Oh, these accusations are so horribly isolating, ignorant, and bone crushing!  Sadly, they often come from relatives or people that rarely see you.   Not at all uncommon, they often come from individuals who are not exemplary parents themselves.  Parents like me will often gauge whether or not to attend events based on whether or not people who accuse like this will be there.  Perhaps they are merely attempting to build themselves up by putting others down.  Regardless, their words are like kerosine thrown on the fire of self-doubt that burns inside the heart of nearly every parent raising a child with a diagnosis.
  4. "If you would only..."  (AKA "I know better than you.") -- These are people who feel certain that they have found the solution to our problem.  They may have found something that works really well for their family, and thus, assume it will be the "magic bullet" for us.  It can be anything from a multi-level marketing product, to a homeopathic remedy, to a vaccination, or refusing a vaccination, or gluten-free, or dye-free, or the therapy-du-jour.  Whatever that thing is, it likely worked for them or their family.  That's wonderful!  However, these word-wounders are such zealots that they treat others who don't choose their path with disrespect and disdain.
These are only a few of the many ways people wound parents with their words.

What I really want to ask is, WHY do people think it is their God-given right to verbally inflict their opinions on others?

How much more would people think of you if you spoke LIFE into them?  I mean, doesn't life itself beat us all down enough without beating down each other?  Wouldn't you want your words to be considered "the words of the wise"?

I was recently interviewed for a public access show and asked what I would tell people about how to treat people raising children with special needs.  In a much calmer, concise way, I conveyed these very thoughts.

Words matter.

Isn't that what we are always hearing these days?  Schools will go to great lengths for bullying programs, while adults give full-vent to their hurtful words.

Have mercy, people!  Think deeply before you recklessly use language that ends up being like "thrusts of a sword".

PRAY:  Holy Spirit, stand as a guard over my mouth.  Help me to use words that build another up rather than minimizing, accusing or tearing down.  Also guard my heart.  Help me to focus on who I am in Christ, so that the hurtful words of others more easily roll off of me.  Jesus, increase your compassion in each of us.

~ Barb Dittrich

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1 comment:

  1. HI Barb,
    Gorgeous post. I pray for Holy Spirit duct tape daily. I totally agree with using our words to speak LIFE to those that the Lord has us come into contact with - and certainly our family and friends. To God be the Glory, Thanks for the reminder, Brenda