Not far from the top of Heartbreak Hill in Boston, as my pace was as slow as it could be and still be called running, a spectator called my number and yelled, “You Can Do It!  Go!”  Her face is burned on my brain today.  Six years later.  Races wouldn’t be the same without the spectators and their cheers and signs.  Humorous signs are around every turn … “Call a Cab – it’s Faster”, “Daddy, did you Pee your Pants?”, and “Feeling good?  Enjoy it – the feeling will pass” are some of my favorites.  There’s encouragement, too … “Last is the Slowest Winner” and “He who Starts the Race is not the Same as he who Finishes it” are stand-outs.  With the exception of possibly offending “Daddy”, those words are meant for good – encouragement & humor in the midst of painful effort.  What would our world be like if all words promoted goodness and peace … not of this world, but of God?

He who keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.  Proverbs 21:23

I cringe every time I read that verse.  I suppose it will continue to reveal itself to me until its wisdom soaks in and tempers my tongue.  If I was into tattoos, it would be a good one for my forehead.  Words – spoken or written – can have immense power to inspire, comfort and sustain … or deflate, degrade and dishearten.  Why can’t I use my words consistently for good?  Sometimes, my slip-ups are obvious as they’re spewing from my mouth – hurtful words to my children or useless gossip that seems intriguing but doesn’t help anyone.  Other times, I don’t even know I slipped up until an embarrassing amount of time has passed and I finally realize I was insensitive to another’s feelings or shared something that didn’t need to be shared in an attempt to fit in.  Many times, I rationalize that sharing gossip or hurtful thoughts about another is OK if I only tell my people – those who don’t judge me for my words, don’t repeat them, and most likely feel the same way I do … or will forgive me if they find me offensive.  Those rationalizations don’t make it right.  We don’t have to speak flowers and happiness all the time, but if words are not written or uttered for a purpose that ultimately promotes God’s peace and love, they should not be used.  Impossible, yes; but there’s always good news … someone is available 24/7 to listen to anything and everything we want to say.  We don’t even need a filter because He already knows what we’re thinking before we think or say it.  He wants us to tell Him, however, and He’ll offer peace in return.  In the midst of a struggle, if hurtful words or gossip fill our mind, going to God first may transform our negative thoughts into loving, purposeful words.  Before we speak, let’s Tell God First.  Now, that would be a good tattoo.

Dear God, please help me remember my words should be a force for Your good.