It is said there are five things you can't recover.
One of them is the word after it's said.
A few months ago, a woman said some caustic words about a man she had known for a long time. The words were hurtful, with a false innuendo. But, once said, they couldn't be recalled.
Those words spread like wildfire, causing friction among a group of people who were divided. They took sides.
The hostile words hurt both sides, but especially the person who was the brunt of the words.
Today those words cast a pall over all the people involved.
Some people are no longer speaking to each other. Yes, someday, forgiveness may come for those involved. But the words will never be recalled. Probably never forgotten.
Words can also have a good, far reaching effect.
Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."
A woman who now holds a state office in a women's organization told me a story that illustrates what an aptly spoken word can do.
She attended a Sunday School class where there were eight or nine women who attended.
Each Sunday they would take turns reading the scripture lesson from the bible.
She always nodded to bypass her. She didn't want to read out loud. She was timid, but nice.
One of the ladies encouraged her to read a scripture one Sunday morning. So she did. There were a couple of biblical names that were hard to pronounce but she managed to struggle through them. She faltered as she read but when she finished, everyone smiled at her.
It became easier for her to "take her turn" although she read slowly and haltingly.
The lady who had encouraged her to read that first scripture continued to encourage the classmate. She encouraged her to speak out and join in the class discussion, to express her own views from time to time. And, slowly, she did just that. She joined the church and became a strong supporter; a faithful member.
It was years later that the two women met at a church gathering. They now lived towns apart.
The woman who had been so shy was stylishly dressed and beamed with confidence.
She approached the former classmate who had encouraged her to speak out. They hugged and exchanged pleasantries.
"Remember when you encouraged me in Sunday School," she said. "You'll never know how much your words meant to me."
She explained that she had dyslexia and feared reading aloud. She somehow thought that made her inferior and she became withdrawn in gatherings. "I can't believe how far I've come."
She told that recently she had been one of the speakers at a state convention.
"I never thought I'd ever be doing a thing like that," she said. "I was nervous but I did it, and I was told I did a good job."
The woman had started out on a community level, then progressed to the county level, then to state.
It was an accomplishment she never dreamed was possible when she sat in that Sunday School classroom years before.
"I owe it to you," she told her friend, who had no idea that her words, spoken so long ago, had such an influence.
But it is true that words can have influence.
But they can't be recovered.
What are the other four things that can't be recovered?
.......the stone after it's thrown.
.......the occasion after it's missed.
...... the time after it's gone.
.......the person after they die.