Words are Powerful
A Mother’s words hold power. Her words have the ability to show love, encouragement, and care. They also have the ability to wound, discourage, and demean.
Matthew 12:34–35 “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”
Our words reveal what is in our hearts at the deepest level – in our thoughts, beliefs, and desires. When sin rules in our hearts, it will show outwardly in our behavior and words. Mothering is a rewarding life role, but it can also be exhausting, draining, and difficult at times. In her exhaustion, personal pain, and suffering, a mother might say things to her child that are sinful and damaging.
Matthew 12:36-37 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
An exhausted mom is more likely to lash out with her words. Some women also have unresolved heart issues or difficult life circumstances that tempt them to sinfully express anger and frustration directed towards their family. For example, these are phrases spoken by mothers that I have heard from teens who are navigating difficult relationships with their moms:
“You are so stupid.”
“You need to obey or you can’t live here anymore.”
“You are such a slut!”
“You will never succeed.”
“You have been nothing but a problem to me.”
“You either get straight A’s, or we will not take you on the family vacation.”
“I hate you.”
The Tongue is a Fire
James 3:6 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”
When a mother uses her words harshly, she is setting her home on fire, in a sense. She uses words that discourage, wound, kill and destroy.
A teen on the receiving end of such blazing hot words is crushed and demoralized. She feels unsafe and unloved, to say the least. She might either turn inward and become depressed and possibly resort to self-injury, suicidal thoughts, and other destructive but quiet behaviors, or she might act out outwardly in rebellion and open disobedience. These often become the presenting problems that bring a teen to counseling. When that teen tells her story, the destructive dynamic between her and her mother is revealed.
Not only do these flaming words wound the teen, they also hinder the mom’s relationship with The Lord. She is in sin, and must repent in order to restore her relationships with God and her family. The gospel makes this possible.
Hope and Help
Some things to put in place in order to restore your relationship with your child, and ultimately with The Lord:
*Ask God to help you to search your heart and be honest before Him about your sinful words. God will change your heart as you seek Him.
*Confess. Repent. Receive God’s forgiveness. Preach the gospel to yourself.
*Share all of this with your husband, too. Have him sit with you while you reconcile with your child.
*Seek forgiveness from your husband and your child.
*Find a friend or counselor to hold you accountable and to talk through your heart issues. Make sure it is someone who holds to the sufficiency of scripture and who can help you to think biblically and apply the gospel to your struggles with sin and suffering.
*Be involved in church in order to grow in sanctification. Be honest and transparent there.
*Be in God’s Word, have a meaty prayer life, and do not forsake fellowship.
*If you slip up and say harsh words, quickly go through the process of reconciliation again.
*Be sure that your teen is getting biblical help, too. The fire may have been put out, but the burns hurt for awhile. Your teen needs to know there is hope in the gospel and in God’s Word. She needs godly, wise counsel and discipleship.
*Put off/put on. In Ephesians 4:22-24, there is a principle we will call the “put off/put on principle”. You do need to “put off” harsh words, but you also need to replace them by “putting on” words that will uplift, encourage, and show love to your child.
The apostle Paul, in Ephesians 4:29 wrote, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Moms, you can choose to speak only edifying words to your child, even when you are exhausted, frustrated, and even if your child is being disobedient and rebellious. It is possible, with God’s help and the help of your church community, to avoid setting your household on fire with your words.
Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Have you spoken words that have set your household on fire? If so, what will you do today to put out the fire to heal and restore your family? Please do not wait another day.