Posted tagged ‘words’

Regrettable Words: Spoken and Unspoken

May 10, 2018

Regrettable Words: Some Spoken, Some Suppressed
by Dr. Steven J. Callis

Have you ever uttered a statement, only to immediately regret that it passed your lips?  My email provider includes a feature that allows 30 seconds to “undo” a sent message.  Oh, that we had such a feature in the human body, but we all have learned the difficult lesson that something spoken cannot be unsaid.

Myron Augsburger wrote, “Words spoken prematurely cause extended damage.  Harsh words wound; critical words destroy.  Once words are spoken they cannot be recalled and we cannot be free from the responsibility of having made the statement.”

An unfortunate illness among young children is Hoof and Mouth disease.  In later years, that malady becomes “hoof IN mouth” disease.  The idea of putting a foot in one’s mouth actually did originate in the 1870’s and the deadly virus among cattle that was called “Hoof-and-Mouth.”  A fancier term for the slip of the tongue is faux pas, a tactless statement made in a social situation.

In a less innocent scenario, one may be guilty of hurling a cruel insult or criticism towards another person.  Often the critic may feel some amount of remorse later, but the damage is already done.  No amount of regret, and no act of restitution, will enable the victim to unhear what was said –genuine repentance is a huge step in healing the relationship, nonetheless.

While the words cannot be unsaid, there is still the possibility of making it right with the other person.  On the other hand, there is no recourse for words that have been suppressed for too long.  Garth Brooks sings the question, “If tomorrow never comes, will she know how much I loved her?” How will they know if we do not demonstrate our love and verbalize it, as well?

The Bee Gees released a song as a single in 1968 titled, “Words.”  The lyrics include this line: “It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.”  The gist of the song is that words can make a person happy or make a person sad.  I would contend, however, that words unspoken can do neither.

You and I are responsible for the words we speak, and for the words we suppress.  Using the adage to look before you leap, let us add that one should think before speaking.  The apostle James wrote in a letter recorded in the Bible’s New Testament, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”  We must speak words that bear meaning and purpose, because words flow from the abundance of our heart.  And if we are truly thinking about our words and their purpose, we will not suppress those expressions that our loved ones need to hear.


I Was Afraid of That!

December 7, 2012

I Was Afraid of That

Steven J. Callis

Among the longest words I have ever seen: hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.  If you are still reading, then you likely are not plagued by this mental disorder.  The 15-syllable word is the term used to identify persons who have an overwhelming fear of long words.  Like symptoms associated with many other fears, a person with this disorder may experience dry mouth, panic, crying, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and so on.

I have not found a website or institution that identifies the exact number of registered phobias, though one article suggests that there are more phobias than there are people!  These phobias are more than simple fear, but an overwhelming anxiety that cannot be controlled.  They include something as common as a fear of heights (acrophobia) to the almost nonsensical arachibutyrophobia (the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth).

Even if they are merely perceived, fears are real to the person experiencing them.  And while you may not suffer from a debilitating phobia, all persons experience some level of fear in certain situations, based on a real or perceived threat or danger.  One imagined solution would be to call on that super-canine who always spoke in rhymes, “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!”  But is there a more realistic answer?

The Bible’s repetitive exhortation to not be afraid appears not as a chastisement, rather, it is a word of hope and encouragement, in that it usually appears in context with the promise that the Lord can be trusted in every circumstance.  Peace, like fear, is an emotional reaction to one’s state of mind, which is strengthened by confidence in God’s power, wisdom, and grace.

I was shopping in a store last week where there was a sizable display of cowboy knickknacks.  There was a John Wayne coffee mug with this quote on it: “courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.”  Take heart today in the promise of Jesus to those who follow His Way, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” You can trust Him today.