The late Art Linkletter used to do a segment in his radio and television show entitled, “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” Growing up my mother used to say, “If you want to know the truth ask a drunk or ask a kid.”
In reality we banter about a lot of thoughtless words. Correcting the way we speak has gone from a focus on grammar to a focus on political correctness. I venture to say simple thoughtfulness might be the better solution.
Jesus said, “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart.” (Matthew 15:18). How is your heart? How do your words reflect your faith, your convictions about God and His will for your life?
I can think of many examples throughout all of life where we could polish the way we say things. For now, I want to focus on pregnancy.
The most common question asked of expectant parents is, “Are you hoping for a boy or girl.” In this generation of prenatal testing and ultrasound we can learn the sex of our unborn children and a host of other things as well. Consequently, a common, and thoughtless, response is “It really doesn’t matter, as long as it is healthy.” Sometimes it comes from supportive friends and family and sometimes it comes for anxious expectant parents.
Nothing wrong with wanting good health. When I pray that someone be healed of their wounds, illness, or disease I am clearly showing a desire for good health. That is also my view of a pregnancy. I want every child born in great health with optimum opportunities for survival and every mother kept safe throughout the pregnancy and childbirth. The vexing question is, “Does a baby have to be healthy to be appreciated, welcomed, or desired?” If not, why use the conditional, “as long as it is healthy”?
When we thoughtlessly augment our well-wishes by placing the bar only so low as looking for a “healthy” child, it communicates a negative message about those who are not healthy and perhaps betrays a darkened heart on our part. Are less-healthy children less wanted? Are they less precious? Or, in this era of abortion-on-demand, are they better off dead? Worse yet, will having them dead be better off for us who are “healthy”?
These are the kinds of questions ranking high in a society that has shifted its focus from an absolute or intrinsic value outlook of human life to a qualitative outlook. Instead of viewing all life as equal in the sight of God, who sacrificed His own Son for all people – the healthy and unhealthy – we are increasingly selective about the lives valuee and celebrated.
I ran across a blog by a woman who was blessed with a baby boy. While still in the womb that child was diagnosed with Spina Bifada. She wrote a thoughtful article entitled, “As Long As It is Healthy. But What if it’s Not?” Take a moment to read it. It is a more-than-subtle encouragement for us to be a bit more thoughtful in the way we speak.
In closing, I realize in criticizing thoughtless language I am also guilty of using it on occasion. I have learned much about measuring my words and I know there is much yet to learn. I have discovered that when at a loss for what to say we tend to use cliches or words that clearly reveal our naivete. Growing in our understanding of the value of all human life, born and unborn, healthy or weak, will help us be more thoughtful, more supportive and definitely less conditional in how we speak about life.