I eased into my seat at the small table and took a slow sip of water. The lunch hour crowd buzzed around me as I gazed around the room. Soon a particular conversation began to grab my attention:
“Tatoos are disgusting!” proclaimed the young woman
“Yes they are.” agreed the young man.
“Oh you mean a tramp stamp” laughed the woman
“Yes I told her it was stupid and she got mad” proclaimed the man
That old familiar wave of shame and guilt washed over my soul as my mother returned to the table. Soon our food was ready and we ate in silence as their conversation continued to reach my ears. Their topics ranged from homosexuality, to sex outside of marriage and many other things. It soon became clear what they believed and they were also Christians. My mother and I finished our meal and slipped quietly out of the restaurant, never to encounter this couple again.
Once in the car I began to process what I had heard and how it had made me feel. You see, I am the woman they were talking about, I have a ‘tramp’ stamp, I have had sex outside of marriage and have committed many other sins over the course of my life. As I marinated in the shame the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears flooded my soul. (Read it here Luke 7:36-39) This woman arrived at the Pharisees home that night merely to worship the one man who could see past her sin to the hurting woman she was. Instead she was also raked over the coals by the Pharisees as I felt by this couple. Then it dawned on me, I am the young couple as well.
How many times have I discussed my beliefs in a crowded coffee shop or restaurant, oblivious to the people around me. Did the words of my mouth represent that I am a sinner who is forgiven much and loves much, or did I sound much the same? Is this what God meant when He said that any of us could be called to testify to His name at any moment? How many times have I given a bad testament of who He is because of careless words that passed my lips?
Each day that I travel this journey I see more and more how important our words are. A word can leave a deeper scar than a sword or a fist. But a word can also bring a healing balm to a festering wound. My prayer is that I am more cognizant of the words and the people around me who may be hurting and need a comforting word.
How about you? Have you ever overheard a conversation that cut you to the bone?