What You Say Really Matters

I was in second grade, excited to be attending another Brownie meeting. Our troop leader—an imposing woman with a commanding voice—stood and began barking instructions. Something she said seemed unclear, so I raised my hand. She rolled her eyes, clearly annoyed. “Would you please put your hand down, Donna? You always have a question. Sometimes I’d like to flush you down the toilet!”

Well, that was a mean thing to say, I thought. In retrospect, my childlike assessment was an understatement. Her words were downright rotten. My Brownie leader’s words remain etched in my brain to this day, but all these years later, I’m grateful her cruel comments didn’t cause permanent damage.

Looking back now, I realize why. Often—daily, in fact—I heard words of life-giving affirmation from the lips of my parents.

Words like . . . I love you. We’re proud of you. Thanks for being so kind.

Words of consistent blessing build more than confidence or courage: they build a wall of protection, preventing permanent wounding from hurtful, discouraging, or critical words. Not everyone grows up with parents who build like this. My mother didn’t. But despite her upbringing, she took the words of Ephesians to heart. And by doing so, she protected mine.

No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.


This is an excerpt from our 365-day A Moment to Breathe Devotional Journal.