Words. Words matter.
I will tread lightly. Because when we speak or write words, everyone has a different filter to receive them. And yet, my soul, my whole being breaks out in compassion over what I see and hear. Over the past couple of years, I am learning how to tread lightly.
The words, “black and white,” can be used for several different meanings. For example:
- When we speak about truth, many times the term is used to explain the difference between truth and lies.
- I think of a childhood song, “Jesus Loves The Little Children,” when I hear these words.
This morning, as I go through social media, my heart is concerned with statements that are put out in black and white. Some have signs of gray that surround them too.
Coming from a military family, I have lived in different cultures during my life. I was always taught to respect those cultures. Most of my younger years were spent moving around every 18 months and rarely finding time to make friends within the local community. I learned how to sit by quietly and wait for someone to reach out to me. I learned at a younger age, it is not always wise to be the first one to make the move.
Many times, people did not want to be my friend because my father was in the military and others thought what he did for a living was wrong. Yet, I learned to be silent in those moments.
In later years, my husband was a police officer. And believe it or not there were people in our neighborhood that did not want to be friends because he was a police officer. In some ways it affected my children too.
There were times in my younger years as a wife and mother, there were people that did not want to be friends because I didn’t work outside of the home. I was put down because I made that choice because I lived in a culture where “women made the bacon and they fried it too!”
I could add many more times that I wasn’t accepted, but I learned to not let it affect my life.
Can I honestly say that every time that I hear that another police officer has been killed, just because they were a police officer, it tares another part of my heart away. And can I honestly say, I am amazed at communities that have nothing to say about that. And it doesn’t matter if that police officer is black or white or anything else.
Now this week, another police officer involved in a shooting and has been suspended, is being made out to be racist. That he shot a person because they were black. No questions asked. Not all the information available. And yet, it seems like it is automatically made into a black and white issue.
Believe me, I know and understand the black and white issues over the years. I have witnessed some of those times. I am almost 70 years old, so I grew up in times where black people were abused.
I remember one time, while living in West Point, Mississippi where my father was stationed, that blacks were not allowed to shop in that town accept on a special day. I remember one day, being in a grocery store, and I went to get a drink of water from a water fountain. Out of nowhere, a man grabbed my arm and pulled me away from the fountain and said, “Can’t you read? That water fountain is for blacks! Do you want to turn black?”
Yep! That really happened. I must have been about eight or nine years old at the time. I literally did not know what to say or even do. So I remained silent. But after all these years that has bothered me. How could people be so cruel?
My point here, I think, is sometimes we really don’t stop to think. We make judgment calls without thinking.
Another thought this morning, was about a celebrity who sat at a football game with another person who did not believe the way she did, so people come out with hateful words towards her for being seen doing that. She even gives a statement about how we should be kind to one another.
I am not going to take this thought any further, today. We all need to stop and think before we allow words to flow from our hearts. I can’t check your heart and you can’t check mine. But we can check our own heart monitors to see what we are believing – what we are saying – what we are feeling. We must be careful in making what I call “blanket statements.”
Take time today to look out into your world. It may be a friend. It may be an acquaintance. It may be a co-worker. There may be something about them that drives you nuts. But stop and think, do you really know about their lives? Do you know what they have endured throughout their lifetime? Stop. Think. Listen.
We can do better.
My Song: Take time to get to know one another. Stay long enough to hear another’s heart. It takes time. But it will make all the difference in your life. And more than anything, “Don’t jump to conclusions!” As Joe Friday always said, “Just the facts, Ma’am.”
Father God, words matter. We have become careless with our words at times. Words that can’t be taken back. Father, I ask for myself, first off, help me daily to be wise in how I throw out my words. I am thankful that you have shown me how careless I have been at times. We are all your children and you love each one of us in unique ways. Help us to look out into the communities with the same compassion that Jesus did – open our eyes to others that we may be caring. That we will take the time to understand others. But most of all, I ask that you help guide our daily words. I love you, Lord, I ask this in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.