Speak Words of Life

I become concerned when I watch a person, known, unknown or renown come under attack.  Is it appropriate to step up, to say or do something?

I watched Matt Lauer interview Paula Deen.  I don’t consider myself a Paula Deen fan.  Deen is a 66-year old woman, carrying our country’s language, its history and her local history in her life story.  She’s made mistakes with words.  She’s apologized.

When I was growing up, I didn’t know that there was a separate high school for the African American community until my high school became integrated.  I never once thought about a separate school since I had attended grade school with African American children.

While in grade school, my mother would occasionally send me on errands to the home of an older African American woman.  I was walking with a friend, telling her that I had to go to Mrs. Smith’s.  My friend stopped walking and said in a normal voice, “I’m not allowed to go there.”  I continued on to Mrs. Smith’s home, picking up what my mother had asked.  My friend waited for me.  Mrs. Smith always offered me something to eat whenever I went to her home.  I would have stayed a little while but knew my friend was waiting.  I never asked my friend why she wasn’t allowed to go to Mrs. Smith’s.  When she told me that she wasn’t allowed to go, she had indirectly spoken with the authority of her parents’ rules.  That was good enough for me.

Signs of bias of all types could be seen where I grew up.  Differing ethnic groups would walk across streets to avoid passing someone on a sidewalk they didn’t want to be associated with.  Inequality and prejudice wear disguises on all sorts of faces.  I wonder if some of us have been part of an “I think I’m better than you club” at one time or another.  I wonder if some of us have used language in the past that would be tagged inappropriate today.

We are broken people, whether part of our brokenness is from influences of language, how or where we grew up or influences of others, we don’t always put a best foot forward.  To me, this is human nature.

Life is a work in progress.  Attitudes of the heart can change.  We are able to work towards becoming more loving, accepting and caring people, including caring about those who have committed wrongs.

In my opinion, the way Paula Deen has been treated for admitting to speaking wrong words in her past may border abusive behavior.  From my perspective, lots of people condemning her may have forgotten about personal shortcomings, or wrong words they may have thought, uttered or screamed.

Rev. Dr. Tim Keller (@DailyKeller) tweeted on June 21: “Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive him, will fulfill you completely, and, if you fail him, will forgive you eternally.”  Is it time to offer forgiveness to Paula Deen, to receive her in her brokenness?

To many, Paula Deen has failed them.  Are we capable of forgiving her for using inappropriate language?  The book cover of Beth Moore’s study of James from Lifeway Press reads: “Mercy Triumphs.”   

Hibiscus

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by [humankind], but no human being can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”  These words are from the book of James, chapter 3, v.7-8, in the New Testament, NIV translation.

Can we do our best to speak positive, life giving words?  Can we offer mercy to others?

©Barbara Moran and barbaramoranblog

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