Numerous studies show that if you smile, regardless of how you feel, your mood will be elevated. You can also cause others to smile, elevating their moods as well. There are physiological reasons for this that I won’t get into here. What I want to focus on is that the act influences the emotions. The same is true of our words. What we speak will greatly influence our feelings.
My post, Words: The Heart’s Mirror, reflects on how our words deem us to be trustworthy or not. How scripture tells us to be encouraging in our speech and that what we say is an indicator of what is in our hearts. Now I want to ponder the emotional consequences of our words.
“The words of a wise man win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him.” (Ecclesiastes 10:12, ESV)
I had a situation years ago where a friend, for whom I care deeply, was being treated miserably by their spouse. I was furious. I felt helpless, and in my frustration I vented to my husband. Regularly. I figured that as long as it stayed between us, I was doing no harm. After all, biblically we are one, right? My words could certainly not be construed as gossip so I was spiritually in the clear, I reasoned.
One day I came to a startling realization. I hated my friend’s spouse. I mean really, truly, wish-this-person-would-die, hated this person. It made me feel ugly. And then I just felt unbearably sad.
My foolish lips were indeed consuming me; filling me with bitterness and rage that rendered me useless to my Lord.
Even more, I could see that I had made my husband hate this person too. My venting had become more and more consuming. Like a disease, it was spreading; infecting my husband, my relationship with my friend, and even spilling over into unrelated areas of thought.
My whole view of the world was being colored by my verbal rampages on a single issue.
It was sobering. I felt my Lord telling me to stop. Verbally vomiting on my husband had only fueled my resentment. I needed to bring my animosity, my grief, my vicious thoughts, to Jesus. Only Jesus. At first it felt strange, almost sacrilegious to pray: “Alright Lord, I really hate _____. If you want me to love this person, you’ll have to do it through me, ‘cause I’m just not feelin’ it.”
Thankfully, Jesus is big enough to handle my foolishness and He answered almost immediately. I still felt angry, frustrated, and powerless in this situation. However, I also began seeing this person with compassion. I was able to take the negative emotions and leave them with Jesus before they spilled out in words. I felt incredibly unburdened.
I no longer carried the weight of hatred.
Interestingly, my husband’s feelings softened as well. Amazing what happens when the verbal vomit gets cleaned up, yes? I’m so grateful and humbled that my Lord stopped me before this infection had spread any further.
Like smiles or like disease, our words are contagious. Are you affecting or infecting those in your sphere?