Are Your Words Bullets or Seeds?

Bullets or Seeds

The Grocery Store Mom

I was on the soup aisle when I first heard her.

She was yelling, yelling, yelling.

I turned the corner to see what was going on. It was a mom with two elementary-age kids beside the frozen foods.

Her tongue was shooting bullets of hurtful words into their young souls.

Both kids just stood there, frozen themselves. Taking it in. Not talking back. No expressions on their faces.

I felt like a witness. To a shooting without guns.

I was disturbed. Helpless. Wondering if I should do something.

If this is how the mother acts in public, how does she act in private, with nobody watching?

Bullets or Seeds?

We’ve all lashed out with hurtful words. They explode out of us. Uncontrollable. Uncontainable. We don’t care where they land or how deep they penetrate. In the moment, anyway.

My pastor shared a word metaphor a few weeks ago in his sermon. He said our words are either bullets or seeds. Gary Chapman spoke of it first in his book, Love as a Way of Life.

We use words as bullets when we:

  • Speak harshly
  • Criticize deeply
  • Spread lies

We leave hurt bodies in our wake. We become living cemeteries. We sow graveyards wherever we go.

But we plants seeds with words when we:

  • Speak love
  • Encourage
  • Give grace

We nurture relationships. We grow people. We will eventually see good crops around us. And we will be encouraged ourselves.

Our words can grow people. Or our words can shoot them down.

God is glorified when we scatter his message of love, not hate, into the atmosphere around us. But he is disrespected when we disrespect others.

The Post Office Dad

I was later witness to another parent, another set of kids.

This time it was a father. I was in line at the post office. He was ahead of me with his three children, a set of triplets. Two girls and a boy, around 3 years old.

The kids would play between his legs, talk with each other, and generally look around. The dad would reach down and talk to them, gently, playfully. Their love for each other was obvious.

His words nurtured his kids. But his words to them nurtured me, too. I felt watered. The father’s kindness was contagious.

How we talk to other people matters. Not just to the people we’re talking to. It matters to others around us as well.

Be a planter, not a shooter.

We all are listening.

“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”
Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

* * *

Where have you seen bullets and seeds? Please share your thoughts on the power of words.

22 thoughts on “Are Your Words Bullets or Seeds?

  1. Barbara H.

    I’ve encountered moms like that in grocery stores, too – sadly, much more often than dads like the one in the post office. Sometimes when they’re hatefully scolding their children, I wonder if they don’t realize that their behavior is worse than whatever the child did. And, like you say, it’s hard to know whether to do or say anything or whether any intervention would make it worse.

    On the other hand, I can get pretty frazzled in grocery stores, too. I didn’t yell – but speaking through gritted teeth isn’t much better. May God forgive us for our bullets, heal the wounds, and enable us to plant good seeds instead.

  2. Sarah Geringer

    Such a powerful post, Lisa. My husband is still affected by growing up in a home where words were bullets. You paint a wonderful picture of the power of seeds, though. Sharing this on Pinterest and Twitter.

  3. Tea With Jennifer

    I find gentle interruption can defuse the situation, gently walking up to “grab” a grocery item beside the situation & calmly asking if the “parent” is okay without judgement…But I am trained to diffuse tense situations…so please have discernment…if it is escalating then quietly call law enforcement, as this is child abuse…

    Let us pray for all the haressed parents, they will regret bruising their child’s spirits ahead. Yes, the challenge is to look at our own words & behavior…

  4. Sandra Black

    Yes I love the way you saw the words not just affecting the children each time but the people around. Often we are not careful enough about what we hear when we can have a choice but God please protect our ears when we don’t have that choice and help us to be wiser when we do have the choice.

  5. Ronja

    I love that image of the post office dad! It is so hard to witness those parents who treat their kids with harsh words. I just hate it when I see that since their actions are so harmful to those kids. And you are so right — when I see parents who treat their kids with love, I am encouraged by their actions.

  6. bluecottonmemory

    I had a grocery store experience like that once – and the parent was telling this wild, rambunctious little boy he was going to go to hell because he wouldn’t mind. Somehow, he ended up standing on the end of my cart, asking me if I thought he was going to go to hell. My heart broke in that moment. There was so much I wanted to say – and he was so little. I told him, “Not if you don’t want to.” And he went off running. There are probably better things I could have said – but, to this day, I hope it was a seed planted that grew into something faith-filled and beautiful! I love your story of the father – it watered my soul, too!

  7. Karen Friday

    Another great post, Lisa. Love both examples that drove home your point with the mom and dad. And this is so powerful in regards to words as bullets, “We leave hurt bodies in our wake. We become living cemeteries. We sow graveyards wherever we go.” There IS life and death in the tongue.

  8. floyd samons

    I’m learning this and practicing this more and more as I grow older.

    I spoke with a man a long time ago, when my daughters were young. He told me of the pain of not being encouraged by his parents when he was young. He longed for what he never got.

    It hit me like a ton of bricks and I immediately began to praise and encourage my girls regarding all facets of their lives, but mostly about who they were and the value and love they have.

    Still getting better and seeing the need for it in each and every person in the world… even if they don’t believe it.

  9. KellyRBaker

    Bullets or seeds. Hmm that’s something to remember. That verse in Proverbs is one of my favorites. Idk that I’d ever seen the Message’s version of it. So powerful. Thanks for linking with us at BVN. Have a great weekend, Lisa!

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