“When someone loves you the way they say your name is different. You just know your name is safe in their mouth.” –Billy, age 5
I read this quote on a greeting card about ten years ago and I never forgot its words of wisdom. I’ve used it ever since as a guide for examining my speech.
If I want to love my neighbor and my enemy (and I do), Billy’s standard reveals exactly how well or how poorly I’m doing. I want every name to be safe in my mouth. Even when I’m angry. Disappointed. Fearful about what will happen next.
When we hold others’ names, keeping them safe in our mouths, we reverence them and protect their dignity.
When we cheat, succumbing to the desire to feel close to another by sharing a snarky moment of superiority or revealing a truth better left unsaid, we not only expose the other, we expose ourselves as one who does not protect the dignity of others unless it’s in our own self interest.
How do others’ names sound when I speak them?
May your name always be safe in my mouth.
Photo by Zivilie Arunas on Unsplash.
This is the second post in a series on speech and silence (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence).
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