A little background about myself; I grew up in a broken family and didn’t have the best childhood.
My dad often raised his voice at the smallest matter. It affected me to deeply that whenever someone raised their voices at me, I’d be overwhelmed with fear thinking that I’ve done something wrong.
As for my mum, she’d always talk down to me. Her words were filled with sarcasm, negativity and comparison. Unknowingly, as a child, her words began to shape my identity.
Gradually, I picked up those characteristics from my parents. I thought by speaking harshly to my loved ones is normal and in fact, it is the best way to correct them or be their mirror holder.
I began talking down to people who were younger than me, assuming that being older means I have more life experiences to offer.
I never felt there was anything wrong in my speech especially since it was towards people who were closer to me. However, as shared by Pastor Daniel Cheo, this is a mis-truth!
Mis-truth: “we can say what we want to say when we feel like saying it.”
That person was me! I spoke in whatever, whichever and however way I was comfortable, assuming that it was fine for others.
In reality, my friends and life group members were hurt by the things I’ve said but dared not speak up.
They perceived me as being “fierce” and “scary”. Though they claimed to be joking but these comments left a wound in my heart. Eventually, I allowed these comments to have a hold on my life. I believed that this was simply who I am, and it wasn’t something that needed to be changed.
My perspective shifted when my discipler me that my words do not honour my leader and members in my life group. She explained that to speak the truth, I need to do it in love, not in a commanding way.
This revelation was a shocker to me. I never knew my words could affect someone so deeply.
Well, hey that’s the whole irony. Because I myself have been affected by the words of others and my mum. It’s always easier to see the speck in your brother’s eye than the plank in your own.
It occurred to me that my words could even be a barrier for others to believe and become what God has called them to be. It really got me second guessing the very way I have been speaking all these years.
Things didn’t change immediately because I was trying to change my decisions and outcomes, without changing my beliefs.
The turning point came when God revealed that my friend, Fiona was deeply hurt by a harsh and mindless comment I made. And through this incident, I learned that even unintentional, casual comments can hurt people deeply.
Words truly matter and it carries spiritual weight. Our tongue is so powerful.
I was convicted that I had to learn from scratch. I wanted to learn how to be gentle and speak the truth in love. But it was really tough. Because I always thought that to be gentle, it means you’ve to be weak. And I didn’t want to be weak. Consequently, I became overly-conscious every time I spoke.
One day, I had a rhema word from God saying to me “Jing Qi, you can be gentle because Jesus was gentle too.”
It dawned on me that I am a child of God and made in His image.
Being gentle had nothing to do with my personality or being weak, it’s about having a gentle spirit that cares for others. And gentleness requires an inner strength!
God has given us the responsibility to use our words to build people up instead of tearing people down.
I am also very blessed to have my community walk this journey with me and not reject me. And I am super blessed to have leaders who are so patient with my sharp tongue and not giving up on me.
Even for my parents, I began speaking to them in love as I recognised they are sinners like me, in need of God’s love. Especially towards my mum, I’ve learnt how to be more understanding. Sometimes, though it is tempting for me to reply to her in the same tone she uses, but I’ve learnt to pause and respond with love instead. This resulted in a better relationship with less arguments.
Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will definitely hurt us.
I recognise that I’m still a work in progress but God has equipped me to speak life! I’m no longer stuck and held back by what people have said about me.
Christ has set me free, and He can set you free too.