The other day when I was getting ready for work, I was halfheartedly listening to the local news. I do this every morning, wanting to be informed not just about what’s happening in the world, but also what’s happening in my community. Plus, there are traffic reports.
On this particular day, the anchors were reporting on a disturbing story about a man who went on a rampage Sunday, killing his estranged wife, her teenage son and his friend, his father-in-law, and the wife’s brother in the process. The man’s own daughter, a 4-year-old, was not hurt in the attack. Her dad was arrested and has been charged with six counts of homicide. As I was getting ready that morning, I heard a member of the surviving daughter’s family start to talk, some relation to her mother. And as he started speaking, I saw where his logic was going. And I screamed at the face on the TV to shut up, to stop, to just not say THAT!
What the guy actually said may not seem all that shocking to you, but I saw how hurtful it could be as he continued. When asked about the situation, all the guy could talk about was how everyone in the family lived from paycheck to paycheck, week to week, and now there was no one but them to take care of this child and no one could afford her.
That’s right, this child has just lost her entire family and all you can talk about is how much money she is going to cost you.
My point is that words have power. You can speak blessings or curses over people, “life or death” as Proverbs 18:21 puts it. And what this guy chose to speak over this little girl in a news report that she quite possibly will see, is that she is a burden. That her worth does not equal out or supersede her cost. That money is more important than her well-being.
I understand where the guy is coming from and can’t say that finances wouldn’t be a worry for me if I suddenly were given the responsibility of taking care of a child. But my heart went out to that little girl, because I know that if that is what people continue to believe about her, say about her, and the way the family treats her, good things aren’t going to happen. I know that when people tell you things about yourself, true or not, at some point you kind of start to believe it. And I would hate to see this girl 10 years from now believing she is a burden, a waste, someone who has never been important enough for people to just love for who she is, not what she brings to the table.
So, I guess my point today is that we have a choice in what we say. We can speak life or death.
And the choice is ours.