Verbal Venom: A Recipe for Lifelong Pain by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

crying tears toddler with blond hairstyleI guided my shopping cart into the next aisle of the supermarket. At the far end of the aisle, a mother spewed verbal venom at her toddler daughter. Angry words. Hurtful words.

Demeaning words.

The little child cried loudly in response to her mother’s verbal onslaughts.

My heart went out to both mother and child.

This was not the first time I had seen such a public display of anger between a parent and child. My heart grieved, both for the child whose soul had been deeply wounded by her mother’s angry outburst and for the mother whose own wounded soul lay behind her wrongful behavior.

Whispering a quick prayer as to what, beyond praying, God might want me to do, I approached the young mother.

“You look as though you’re having a bad day. Is there anything I can do to help?”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “I’m having a terrible day.” She then proceeded to share with me a very difficult situation she was facing in her life.

Having once been a young mother myself, I empathized with her. At the same time, being extremely protective of children, I wanted to offer her a way of handling her frustration in a manner that would not hurt her child.

“I know what terrible days are like. When I feel angry and frustrated, I find it always helps to go to God. May I pray with you?”

She nodded as a tear trickled down her cheek.

Glancing at the little girl, whose big blue eyes were riveted on me, I prayed. “Lord Jesus, You know what’s going on in both this young mother’s life and in her child’s life. Bring Your peace and comfort to them now. Show her and her little girl how much You love them. Amen.”

Drying her tears, the young woman smiled, thanked me, and then went her way.

As my gaze followed her and her young child, I trusted that my prayer had somehow allayed the hurt in the mother’s heart and softened the blow of the wound in her little girl’s soul. I prayed that this young mother and her vulnerable child would, when times got tough, remember the lady in the supermarket who showed them that Jesus wants to heal every wound, no matter how terrible and no matter how deep.

All we have to do is ask.

I once heard someone say that hurting people hurt people. One of the worst ways we hurt others is through our words. The painful effect of words spoken in anger can last a lifetime and even alter the course of one’s life. Also, Scripture tells us that when we speak hurtful words, we hurt ourselves: “The merciful man does himself good, But the cruel man does himself harm.” (Proverbs 11: 17).

So let us pay attention to our words, especially the words we speak to young children. They are not yet mature enough to nuance and to separate the wheat from the chaff.  They simply absorb as true whatever they hear from our lips.

Let us purpose to speak only words of life, not death. In so doing, we shall reap life.

Copyright 2018 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All Rights Reserved.

WHO IS JESUS? by MaryAnn Diorio
WHO IS JESUS? by MaryAnn Diorio
Illustrated by Kim Sponaugle
Finalist in the Children’s Religion Category of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Awards Contest!  



Teach your children to know Jesus as He truly is: the Compassionate, Loving God Who heals and sets free!


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