"You and your friend are hot, but what happened to number 41?"

Seven years later and I can still feel the sting From a stranger's words on a social media p

icture comment.

"You're being so overdramatic."

Four years later, I can feel the ache in my heart after being criticized for grieving over a close friend's death.

"You just weren't good enough."

Five months later and I can feel the hurt like it was yesterday.

I can remember these specific statements, along with others, piercing my heart like a dagger and following me for several years later, telling I was never good enough. Some by strangers. Some by friends. Some by people I love. To them, they were nothing but words that were meant to be forgotten. To me, they were words that were forever etched into my heart.

But hey, sticks and stones, right? Wrong. So wrong.

Think about it. How many times in your life have you been able to shake off the hurtful things said to or actions committed against you? Maybe you're lucky and were born with completely thick skin, and words have never had the ability to hurt you. If you're like me and you weren't, there's a reason for that. That reason is because words leave wounds. We live in a world full of firearms, knives, and other weapons that, for the most part, require some kind of permit or license to own. There's one particular weapon that we all carry, one that is sharper than any two-edged sword, cuts twice as deep, and can cause more damage than all of the guns and their ammunition combined. This weapon that we all so carelessly use is our tongue. A weapon, and a part of the body with no bones but strong enough to break a heart.

I can look back on my life and remember certain moments when the words of others left scars and my heart in broken fragments. I can look back on certain moments of when the words of others brought healing and encouragement. I can also unfortunately look back on my life and remember certain moments where MY words left scars on the hearts of others as well. It wasn't until I was older and could still feel the sting, hurt, and ache left from the words of others that I truly realized just how powerful the words we speak can be, how 10 seconds of a hurtful word spoken can still leave a fresh and open wound 10 years later.

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21.

The words that we speak have the potential to lift up or tear down another human being. They have the potential to bring life to the heart of the person receiving our words or completely destroy their spirit. Whenever we gossip about others, laugh and make light of the misfortunes of others, or speak with an unkind and cruel intention, we destroy. By making the decision to use our words for encouraging, loving, and building each other up, we are bringing life to a potentially hurting soul. When you choose to use your words for the purpose of uplifting others rather than tearing them down, you're choosing to make a difference. You're making a difference in how a person's day is going, how their heart feels, and possibly even how they view themselves.

As humans, there will be times when we fail.There will be times when we will say the wrong things and unintentionally hurt other's feelings. There will be times when we'll get caught up in conversation and say things about a person that we shouldn't have. There will be times when we'll be so hurt by the actions of another person, that we'll gossip and tell others all about we've been wronged. There will be times when we simply just fail and our mouths will speak before we even think about the consequences. In those hard situations, take a breath and remember that the words you speak have the power to heal or bruise.

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." Proverbs 16:2

Friends, I want the words that flow from my lips to be a reflection of Jesus. I want my words to reflect a heart of grace, forgiveness, and love. I want to use my words to pray for others instead of talking about them when I feel hurt or betrayed. I want the words that I speak to be words of life, compassion, love, and encouragement for those who are hurting. I want others to see my love for the Lord and the love He has for His children by hearing the words that I speak. I want my words to point people to Jesus.

"Let my words be life. Let my words be truth. I don't wanna say a word unless it points the world back to You. Let the words I say be the sound of Your grace. I don't wanna say a word unless it points the world back to You." - Hawk Nelson.

If you've made it with me this far, I challenge you to use your words for a greater good. I challenge you to speak with the desire to let your light shine. I challenge you to love people and hug them with your words. This world can be a cruel, nasty, and ugly place at times. By making the decision to be kind to each other, we're making it an easier place to live in, and speaking words of kindness is a great way to start.