Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
It was a perfect early November day with crystal clear skies. As a 15 year old, it was just another school day for me. As I walked out the door that morning, we had a disagreement, my mom and I.....just another difficult interaction in the complicated relationship between a teenage girl and her mother. As I walked out the door to catch the school bus, she called after me, "I love you," to which I replied, "Whatever."
That word will forever linger in my conscientiousness, a careless reply laced with a negative attitude that cannot be taken back.
That afternoon, I took the activity bus home to an empty house. What I should have been doing was putting on my chore clothes to help with the evening chores, but I had already decided to stick around the house and conveniently miss chores with the excuse of a "late" activity bus. I gazed out our kitchen window, taking in a stunning sunset which cast a glow over the field that my mom was harvesting.....or so I thought. The still combine sat in that field, and unbeknownst to me, she was already dead. And forever, my last words to her would be "WHATEVER."
23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. 24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 17:27-28English Standard Version (ESV)
27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. 28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
Obviously, I am a slow learner. I have used my words carelessly since that day, and I have a lot of regrets with how I have hurt others with my words. My hope, my prayer, is that my story will help others be more careful with their words. It has been painful to live with the fact that I was so careless with the last words that I spoke to my mother. This pain almost killed me, because it ate at me from the inside. I allowed it to fester, consumed with anger, filling my life with destructive behaviors to deaden the pain. There is good news - once I let Jesus Christ heal that pain, I no longer live with that anger or with the destructive behaviors. I know that I am forgiven, and along with that, I know that my mother has forgiven me as well.
On this anniversary of that day that my mother died, I want to share this story with you. I want to be transparent about what happened so that the hope that I have will be shared with others that desperately need that hope. That hope only comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. The peace I can have after all that has happened in my life is available to anyone who seeks it.
So the words "WHATEVER" have a different meaning in my life now. I am more careful with the words I use, spoken outloud or written, because I know the power of words. And before I leave the house, every single day, I make sure that my husband and my kids hear the words, "I love you," because you never know when those last words will be spoken.