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Lingering Damage  

We’ve all seen the videos: aerial sweeps of entire neighborhoods flattened by Hurricane Ian. After killing 119 people and racking up 47 billion dollars of insured losses, Ian is now the most expensive storm in Florida’s history.

We are just back from a trip to Florida, north of where the hurricane left the coast. But even from a distance, you see damage to the vegetation. Where we stayed, the streets were lined with mounds of branches, palm fronds, and other storm debris.

Residents think the garbage collection people should handle it, but the trash haulers don’t share that idea. The city suggests you haul your tree trash to a “transfer station.”  But from all I’ve seen, that message isn’t being heard by many.

Bear in mind that the storm left a month ago, yet a region of Florida far from the hurricane’s direct path still suffers from lingering damage.

With respect to the hurting people of the Sunshine State, this scene reminds me of the damage unleashed by hurtful speech. In a blast of fury, you and I can release a hurricane of hateful words. As with Ian, the immediate damage is quickly apparent—and often deadly.

But it’s easy to overlook or ignore the lingering damage: erosion of trust, fear of transparency, and ruptured relationships. Call it storm debris. And like those palm fronds I saw at the curb, relational destruction has a way of staying around long after the initial impact.



Keep us from windy words.

Words that bring death, destruction, and debris.

We ask it in the peace-loving name of Jesus,



There is one whose rehash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

—Proverbs 12:18


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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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