Last Saturday (March 20th) was the World Oral Health Day. With all of the pictures of healthy teeth and beautiful smiles flying around, I could not but reflect on how my smile has “evolved” over the years, and the role that those around me played in it.
For the better part of my years so far, I sported a broken incisor tooth. That fateful Sunday morning, so many years ago when I lost a part of me (😅), the thought of the societal consequence of having a broken tooth smack dab in the front of my mouth hadn’t crossed my mind. All I could think as I looked upon my fragmented tooth on the floor, and at my sister (and partner-in-mischief at the time) was “oh no, oh no, oh no no no no no” (or something like that…).
Later on, there was this aunty who kept on commenting on how “un-nice” my “new look” was. Saying stuff like “close your mouth”, “see your teeth”, and all sorts whenever i smiled or was talking. Of course, I slowly became that kid who rarely smiled, and who did not “use his whole mouth to talk”.
Then there was this day (many many years later) I was with a group of people, and someone said something funny. Everyone was laughing, and I too joined in the laughter, howbeit conservatively. And then one of them looked at me and asked, “are you afraid to laugh?”. I can’t remember all she said exactly after this, but what registered in my head was “there’s nothing to be ashamed of, open your beautiful mouth and smile”. Now she had no idea, but the wholesome words she spoke that day made me a little more willing to smile more.
A soothing tongue [speaking words that build up and encourage] is a tree of life, But a perversive tongue [speaking words that overwhelm and depress] crushes the spirit.Proverbs 15:4 (AMP)
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (NLT)Ephesians 4:29
It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet.Proverbs 11:12 (NLT)
Our words matter. Especially when dealing with children who are still in their formative years and are taking in everything like a sponge. Many times, we throw harsh and not so nice words around (off-line and online) and downplay or not even think of the possible effects of our words. You’d be surprised, the things that stick in the memories of people.
Let your words build up. Let your words give life. Let your words be an encouragement. Don’t always give into the temptation to break into cutting sarcasm or foul and abusive words. For witty people, this can be quite the challenge (speaking from experience), but it is possible to grow out of the habit of “talking anyhow”. It’s better to keep quiet if you have nothing edifying to say.
This is not an attempt to “cancel” correction and rebuke. It is possible to correct and rebuke someone without resorting to corrosive words. It is possible to correct in Love.
So in summary, brush your teeth twice a day, always speak wholesome and encouraging words (by the help of the Holy Spirit), and last but not least, part the clouds of your lips and let the sweet sunshine that is your smile shine forth. Don’t you dare stop smiling. The world needs it.