I've been pretty overwhelmed by the task of putting onto "paper" (okay, so it's pixels on a screen, get over it!) a series of reflections on communication that "speaks peace" while at the same time encouraging you to do the same. I've been a teacher for a long time and I have a way of doing things. Mostly I impart information, and then help folks figure out how to apply that to their behaviors or beliefs. (Which will ultimately change their behavior. I think there's a theme here!)
In my old framework I would have begun by outlining for you all the reasons you might want to change the way you speak to each other. In doing that I would hopefully prick your consciences in such a way that you would feel sufficient sorrow to draw you to the Cross, and thence to a place of hunger that I might then try to fill with a new "communication paradigm." In my homiletics training we called that "law/Gospel" preaching. It worked pretty well for me for a long time, but it doesn't work for me any more.
I have struggled for a long time with impatience. "Law/Gospel" preaching/teaching (because it really is repentance and rebirth I'm after here) serves the purposes of my impatience pretty well. It provokes a response pretty quickly. Either you repent when I keep poking at your sore spots, or you leave. Either way, I know where I stand with you before too awfully long and I don't "waste time" on folks who aren't "receptive" to my message. I had a pretty good Gospel image to support that approach. In Matthew we hear Jesus tell His disciples, "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet." In my impatience, I rewrote that statement a little. What I heard was, "If at first (or at least pretty soon thereafter!) they don't receive you or your words..." But it doesn't say that at all. It just says that I should when it's time to leave, shake the dust from my feet as a testimony. Trouble is, God's not in as much of a hurry as I am.
Law/Gospel preaching/teaching helps me sort out in short order the ones who'll receive me and my words, when I'm feeling impatient. But I have found that it closes as many doors as it opens. Maybe more. So in my struggle with impatience the Father kept giving me another Scripture to swallow. Because of my own bitterness, this scroll tasted sweet at first, but kept turning bitter in my belly. (Rev. 10:9) And that bitterness kept bringing me back to Him for healing until one day I could receive the Word without the indigestion. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV)
"Law/Gospel" just won't get it any more.
In the way that Jesus did and said only what He saw the Father doing and saying, I would like to "speak peace" (Psalms 85:8) too, and "law/Gospel" doesn't do that. It isn't my place to make your pain intolerable so that you'll want to live differently. I have a feeling that your own lives can make you quite miserable enough, especially if I "speak peace" into your life so that you can't sustain the lie that your painful existence really is as good as it can get.
But how do I do that? Where do I start?
That was my word from the Father as I struggled to find a first thing to put first. Just, "Play!"
As I've prayed into that, meditated on that, listened to that, I've come to understand something. My first task is to write from a place of safety and victory. I am not to write as though the fate of the world or even one person rested on the success of my efforts. I wonder how many opportunities to share the Gospel I've poisoned by taking myself too seriously?
So I encourage you, as you examine your own manner of speaking and reflect on what the Father is really speaking to you, to play. I suspect that even if we play there will still be times of frustration and probably tears. After all, I never got good at a game without being bad it first. I remember hours in front of the garage practicing free throws, not wanting to leave until I'd hit 20 or 30 in a row, and the wild frustration that came when I missed on number 28. And we've all seen the tears of athletes whose teams have fallen short of their goal. It's still a game (for the amateurs, at least) but there's still room for grief. But when we play the tears really do depart with the morning.
It'll keep us all from getting tired of ourselves and each other as we seek to tell this mountain of speech habits to be uprooted and cast itself into the sea, and we'll all have more opportunity to "speak peace" to each other along the way.