Season 5
Episode Number
Release Date
March 3, 2023
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 📚Ephesians 4:29 NKJV


Hey guys. Welcome back to the PSALMS to God podcast. This is Ree, and we're talking about regretting what you say.

The Bible says that the tongue is a powerful weapon. It tells us that we need to be masters of our own tongue and that we need to control it, but it also tells us it's uncontrollable. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the tongue overflows.”[1][2][3]

If. And I read a book called Keep It Shut. I do think I talked about it on the podcast a little while.[4][5] I read it before I read Crucial Conversations. There's a theme here, right? I've been trying to master this whole communication and tongue thing for a while. But in Crucial Conversations, I mean, not in Crucial Conversations—in Keep it Shut, there's a whole chapter. You know, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth spilleth,[3] and it talks about getting your heart right in order to get your conversations right. So that would be the foundation of this topic that we're talking about today.

Looking Beyond Our Hearts

However, I don't wanna stay on that point. I want to talk about it deeper than simply just, you gotta get your heart right, because there's so many layers. To us regretting what we were saying and us even changing as people. One thing that I can say, when I think back to my childhood, there are a lot of things that I remember people saying to me that had lasting impacts. And if I were to go to those people right now and replay the conversation that impacted me, whether positively or negatively, I'm not sure they would even remember it.

In fact, one example from a positive side. Is right here on this podcast. In the first season, I interviewed one of my cousins who is a pastor and was a teacher at my elementary school, and I talked about a time that she comforted comforted me when I did not make a play that all my friends had made, and she didn't even remember that moment.[6]

There are also, negative things, things that people said that. I'm like, oh wow. I can't believe you said that. And you know, it has lasting effects on you psychologically, emotionally, and for them it's just a passing comment. They may not ever realize the impact that it had or why it had that impact.

And when I stopped and thought about that, I realized this is probably true of me too. I've probably said things to people that have had a lasting negative effect on them, and that's a horrible thing.

Why Do We Say What We Say?

I don't think, at least, I hope that most people do not desire to negatively impact somebody's life like that.

But unfortunately we do. Whether it's because we said something in anger, whether it's because we said something in ignorance, whether it's because we just, in that one moment we were an evil person possessed by the devil. There's lots of reasons that we end up saying things that we really shouldn't say.

And definitely thinking back into childhood, most people grow up in a very controlled environment. And what I mean by that is not to say everyone is sheltered and that it's very rigid and restricted. What I mean is that as a child, you have no autonomy to choose the environment you grow up in. So if you grow up in a very liberal household, those are the ideas that you're exposed to and that's what your parents push you towards. If you grow up in a very conservative household, then that's what you're exposed to. For the people who grow up in, say, a predominantly white neighborhood, that's where they grow up. They don't have a choice to go to a more diverse school whether they want to or not. This is the environment that they grow up in. And so when you talk about people who are in high school, people who are in middle school, what they're exposed to is not really their prerogative. It's whatever environment their parents have chosen for them, and that heavily impacts how we think and what we believe.

Some people will align more closely with their parents. Some people will rebel against their parents, but there's still this kind of bubble that you live in and you don't really get to choose to experience something different until you move away from that. And sometimes it takes a while for you to even realize that you want to choose something different, that you want to see how other people live or how other people think. And a lot of that exploration happens in college and in your early twenties.

And so I'm always leery of judging people off things they've said when they were like, before they were like 25. I know, there are things that you hear and you're like, you should know better, right? Like, you have the countless videos of white kids in blackface or saying the N word when they're in college or in high school and you're like, you should just know better. I shouldn't have to tell you not to do that. But at the same time, I understand. They may have grown up in an environment where their parents taught them that racism was okay. I've met adults who I'm pretty sure they have racist kids because they're racist. Right? And there's a point where you start to experience life for yourself and there's a point where you're still kind of under the sway of those, around you. So there's that aspect of how people grow and even as you start to grow and you start to change and you start to make decisions for yourself, there's still things you don't know.


There's still things, I don't know. There are things that between the time I was 25 and now I've learned and I hope there will be new things I learned between now and the time I'm 40. and as you learn things, it changes your perspective. It may make you regret things that you said or did in previous times, and you may not even have connections with the people that you remember that you regret doing those things to, but also you may not even remember you did those things because it may not have even mattered to you at the time.

There are two sides to this that I wanna talk about.

Knowing the Power of the Tongue

The first side is us as the aggressor or us as the person in the wrong. We have to acknowledge that we're not, what is the words I'm looking for? We have to acknowledge that we can harm people in a long term sense; that we can cause trauma to different people, and that trauma can have a lasting effect on people.

And when you stop and think about that, it makes it very, very serious what you say. How much care and thought I give to what I say now is leaps and bounds better than what it was when I was 15. And it's not perfect. I still think that I should be more careful about what I say—measuring my speech, thinking it out.

I almost wish that I could just write everything. I wish that I didn't have to talk to people, that I could just write everything out as like a script before I go into a conversation so I could make sure that I get everything right. But then it would be very robotic and very emotionless, or, I mean, there might still be emotion in it, but it would just be very robotic.

There's a reason people don't communicate like that, but it also makes it difficult because I don't wanna be that person that ruined somebody's life. I hate to think that somebody somewhere is having flashbacks to something I said to them back in high school and I don't even remember saying it; and it's something that probably doesn't even make any sense. If I heard it now, I'd be embarrassed and appalled that I said that.

I used that example in particular because I actually got closure on an event similar to that. I grew up, in a predominantly white high school. I was often the only black person in the class. And I had a classmate who used to say the most racist things in class every day. I could not stand this kid. And at some point they wrote a comment on my wall on Facebook and I just went off. I just just laid them out and they seemed very perplexed that I was angry at them. They were like, “I thought we were friends.” And I ended up having a conversation with them off to the side and explaining to them why I was angry.

Now, I did end up admitting that perhaps my explosion of anger was not the best way to express my anger. And when I started talking to them, they did not remember any of what I remember. They didn't remember how that class had gone down, but they also realized that the things that I was saying sounded like things they probably would have said when they were that age. And because they recognized that they apologized, they were like, “That is wrong. It's totally messed up. I'm sorry that I made you feel that way.”

In that moment I realized that, you know, at this point, a good 10, 15 years had passed since we were in this class together. And I was thinking of this person in a very stagnant manner, right? When I saw this person's face, it was still the 15, 16 year old boy that I went to school with. It is the person who said racist and ignorant things in my class. But this person has since gone to college, met more people, um, experienced life, oh, a whole lot of other things. I guess I should stop there. If I start getting too specific, then I'd be saying who this person is; but this person grew. And as they grew up they changed, but the memory of them in my head did not change because I didn't talk to them anymore. And I realized this happens to all of us. We all grow up and we start to change and we learn new things and we shed some of our ignorant beliefs—some of the ignorant beliefs we might be holding on to.

But we shed those things and we start to become better people hopefully. Every day we should become a better person, but the people that we've hurt most of the time do not get a view of this change. They are still remembering whatever painful thing we said, and in some cases you'll get closure like I did, and in other times you won't.

That makes it imperative that we are careful about our words. Now I look back and I'm like, oh my goodness. What did I say in high school? Did I say anything that—Are there people that I need to call or reach out to and find and be like I said horrible things to you and I just want you to know that I'm sorry?[7]

And I've learned better. And it's very difficult because sometimes we don't know the impact of our words. Things that we think are harmless... To be honest, the older you get… I don't even remember half my classmates, so it's very hard to remember what I said back in, you know, 2000. So, but like, you can't undo it, right?

It's just there, it's like, I regret that I was not the person that I am now then, and in 10 years, I'm probably gonna regret that I'm not the person… That right now I'm not the person I will be then because we should always be improving. But in this moment, I have a responsibility to do the best that I can to not cause harm to other people, to not be saying things carelessly and to to think before I speak so that I'm not inflicting harm, lasting damage on people that.

I can't undo.

This is particularly important from a church standpoint because there are a lot of people who have experienced church hurt, who've experienced trauma within the church, within the body, and it has soured their relationship with The Father. It has soured their relationship with people. And there's a lot of things—I've seen so many people, I've talked to so many people that have lasting trauma because of so-called Christians saying things they had no business saying.

And so the first point that I wanted to address in this conversation about regret is: a lot of times we can't undo things, so it's very important that we get as close to right as we can on the first try, and some of that goes back to the first thing I said about out of the abundance of the heart, the tongue spilleth[3], right? If our heart is in the wrong place, we definitely gonna be saying the wrong things. But it also takes a concerted effort on our part to care about the wellbeing of the people we're talking about, and when we care about them, we will be careful about what we say.

Forgiving Others

Now that brings me to the second point, which is when we are the victim, when we are the ones who are hurting.

When I had that conversation with the guy from my high school and I realized that I had been holding on to a past view of him or a vision of him in the past. I realized that there are a lot of situations, a lot of people who have said things that made me angry or that hurt me, that I will never talk to again. And they may have changed since then—or they could be exactly the same, but it doesn't matter because I know that I change and some people have changed, and I've seen this in some people. I realize that sometimes you just have to let things go. So for those of us who are hanging on to something that people have said to us, there comes a point where we have to say, “Maybe that person has changed and I hope they have. It was unfortunate that they said this to me, but I'm not gonna take it to heart anymore.”

And that's a whole lot easier said than done. I know. But there is a point where we have to acknowledge that people do grow, people do change. With that comes the two-way street of apologies and reconciliation.

So a person who has hurt me has the potential to change and therefore, if I were to interact with that person, it's possible that they would apologize and I should be willing to forgive them. There's also the possibility that I never interact with this person again, and I have to forgive them even without them explicitly asking for forgiveness.

The flip side is also true that there are people I need to go and ask for their forgiveness, and I hope that they would forgive me. And there are also people that I may have seen once and will never see again in my life that I may need their forgiveness. And I also hope that they would hope that I became a better person and that they would also forgive me.

And a lot of that is a lot harder to do. Especially when you think about things that were emotionally jarring, right? Not just you cut me in line and I didn't like it. Or you know, things that really just didn't sit with us forever. You forgot you were mad at them two days later. But things that really, really cut us, things about who we are as a person have changed because of the things that people say to us. It's a lot harder to get past those things, which is why it's so important that we understand this from both sides, from the side of me as the the aggressor, me as the person who caused harm, but also me as the person who's been harmed because we all exist on both sides of those spectrums, which means that we all have amends to make. We all have that same desire for someone to come make amends, and I think that's important to think about when you're having a conversation.


Thank you guys for listening. I hope this has been edifying. Leave me comments about your experiences and what topics you would like to discuss. As always, like, share, subscribe, all those wonderful things, and I will see you guys next time.


References and Footnotes

  1. Psalm 141:3
  2. James 3
  3. Matthew 12:34
  4. 📔
    Keep it Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing At All
  5. 🎙️
    Too Much Talking
  6. 🎙️
    Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness
  7. Key point here that I may not have expressed as well; if we know we’ve said something hurtful and offensive it is our responsibility to atone for that. (Matthew 5:23-24)

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PSALMS to God is a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel that discusses many topics and issues, always keeping YHWH as the anchor. Hosea 4:6 says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”—here, the aim is to always ask questions and study to find the answers. You can keep up with new content by signing up for the weekly newsletter.