A couple of weeks ago, I was reading my Bible, and as I was reading through a few chapters of Proverbs, several verses focused on speech, language, the lips, the mouth, and the tongue…(all verses are taken from the English Standard Version)
From Proverbs 15…
“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” – verse 2
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” – verse 4
“The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.” – verse 7
From Proverbs 16…
“Righteous lips are the delight of a king and he loves him who speaks what is right.” – verse 13
“The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips.” – verse 23
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” – verse 24
From Proverbs 17…
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” – verse 27
From Proverbs 18…
“The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” – verse 4
And honestly, these references got me thinking about convictions I’d been thinking about for a while about the way I speak – the words I use, why I use them, what exactly is considered “perverse speech,” what is acceptable/unacceptable to say, what is slander?
I feel like I’ve heard before that in the Bible when it talks about “perverse speech,” it means mostly saying the Lord’s name in vain. Don’t quote me on that though…I’m not exactly sure.
As for slander, well, that’s talking about other people – gossiping, bringing people down. I can’t say that I never do those things, because I’d be lying.
Another thing I will be honest about: as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been using more cuss words when I speak, mostly among my peers, and a lot more so when I’m alone muttering under my breath, or when I’m frustrated about something. Instead of skipping the cuss words in songs, I sing them out boldly. And this all began about a year ago after so many songs that described the way I was feeling were released, and they all had cuss words in them. I justified singing them because using the profanity just made it seem more powerful; it validated how passionate my emotions were.
It also doesn’t help that all my friends were / are using cuss words too. There was a point in which one of my friends and I decided to stop cussing, and I was happy I wasn’t the only one who wanted to strive to speak better. But lately, I’ve slipped back into it.
Some of you may be thinking…
Mishy…You’re An Adult…
Yeah, I know that, and society says that once you hit a certain age (which is even younger than twenty-one honestly…more like sixteen these days…maybe younger), using certain words is acceptable. At least in American culture. Many cuss words used in America are normal, every day words in other countries. Maybe even in different parts of America they’re used differently. Anyways we won’t get into that.
But cussing is just the way most young people talk; it’s the way this generation speaks to each other. Using those words just places emphasis on everything.
Something I’ve realized is that people from my generation and younger exaggerate a lot. We place emphasis on things that are truly so basic. We are all “hella extra” and proud (I admit, I am an extra person in some ways…). So we think it’s okay to use language that expresses all of these things.
But words like damn, shit, the f-word that had such harsh meanings years before now basically mean nothing these days it seems. Or they’re words that replace very, so, oops, etc. We’ve neutralized them into just being filler words to add dramatic effect, sometimes to equally dramatic situations, but sometimes not so much.
Using words like this shouldn’t be a defining characteristic of what makes you an adult, or cool or whatever else people thinks it makes them. I’ve heard twelve-year-olds use these words, and have had to stop and wonder where in the world they heard that from. But truly, they are everywhere, being used by mostly everyone.
I know you’re probably thinking I’m dissecting this way too much; why do I care so much about the words I use? Why can’t I just stop cussing, move on, and not blog about it? Well, for one, it’s content soooo…
Another thing is that words are so powerful. So powerful. I mean, people get their feelings hurt every day, how? Words. Decisions are made using words. Words play a huge role in life. And as a now preschool teacher, I definitely need to watch what I say so as not to influence the little ones I teach in terrible speech (oo, you read that rhyme in there?).
But it’s not just because I teach two-year-olds. Words are such a big deal to me personally. They’re what I want my career to be based off of. They’re a part of my major dream as a writer and spoken word artist. I have a whole site based on a mantra that “Your words matter,” yet I’m slinging words around in my every day speech as if I truly don’t believe that. As if the words I use don’t have some affect or display of the knowledge and wisdom within my mind. As if they don’t have the power to heal, to influence, to give delight to someone because I am speaking what is right.
Never have I ever felt the need to use cuss words or anything like that in my writing, be it blogging or spoken word. I feel like as a writer and speaker, valuing the integrity of my words is a major part of who I am and what I do. Am I saying that other writers who choose to use words like the ones I’ve mentioned do not stand for the value of words? No, of course not. As writers themselves, they choose how and what words can be used to express their feelings and thoughts about their perspective of the world. I’m not here to judge other writers and the words they use, I’m here to evaluate myself, and how I feel about the words I am using.
And I strive to be a person that people look at, and don’t have to question whether or not it’s okay for their child or their loved one who is more sensitive to the use of words, to read or hear what I have to say. Again, I’m not saying everyone is wrong for using cuss words. However, I am saying that maybe it is wrong for me to use them.
So, I am now in the process of changing my speech; of being more aware of what I say, and how I say it. I want whatever I say and write to be pleasing to God, and I just feel like not using certain words is my personal way of doing that. That, plus also lessening the gossiping; I’ve written a blog post previously about not talking negatively about people. I have a specific event every Monday (#MotivationalMishyMondays) on Instagram live that aims to encourage and build people up. What would it be like if those same people who came to that live heard me talking smack about someone while I was at work, or out with a friend? It’s so difficult to not gossip because it’s so easy to do, and everyone does it. Everyone. It’s still a challenge for me to lessen it, and stop altogether, but I want to strive to do so.
I’m going to end with the main Bible verse I use when I think about my writing and my speaking…
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14 (ESV)