Monday, January 17, 2011

Sticks and stones may break my bones...

...but words can hurt me too. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but I'm reminded from time to time of just how much impact our words can have on those that are dear to us.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

An empowering sentiment, but this is not entirely true.

Words have the power to both destroy and heal.
When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.

I'm no Buddhist, but he was on to something there. Words can cut just like a knife when tossed about carelessly, spewed forth in anger or irritation, said needlessly for the benefit of no one. Why is that we're so quick to use barbed words? Didn't our grandmothers all tell us that if we don't have anything nice to say, that we shouldn't say anything at all?

A careless word may kindle strife; a cruel word may wreck a life.
A timely word may lessen stress; a loving word may heal and bless.
-Author Unknown

Oh, careless words. I can't tell you how many times I've had my entire day ruined by a thoughtless comment from my husband or from a friend...from someone that I don't expect to hear hurtful words. Sure, they come from all of us sometimes. They slip out, they're said in jest and misinterpreted, they're said in anger and not heartfelt. But they're said. And once they're out, there's no snatching them back.

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for
every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be
acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
Matthew 12:36-38

This is a scary, scary verse...I can't tell you how many "careless words" slip out of my mouth. One more (super compelling) reason to strive for kind words rather than hurtful ones. After all...

A good word costs no more than a bad one. -English proverb

If only people (and I include myself in that generalization) would try harder to bite back the words that would hurt other people and try instead to share only the ones that will build each other up. If only we could all remember to think before we speak, maybe we could keep those careless words from stabbing each other. And wouldn't that be at least a small step toward making the world a better place?

Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips.
They make other people good-natured. They also produce their own
image of men's souls, and a beautiful image it is.
-Blaise Pascal

I have always been a sensitive person, even as a small child. It's not something that I tend to admit freely...after all, sensitivity is so often equated to weakness, and I'm far from weak. But words affect me deeply, and always have. Because of this, I try to be especially careful about the words that I use toward others. (My husband would disagree with this, as he -unfairly - tends to be on the receiving end of whatever is repressed and unsaid around everyone else.) Do I always succeed? Absolutely not. Emotions get the best of me sometimes. But would I ever say anything to intentionally hurt the feelings of someone that I care about? No way.

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs 31:26

Proverbs 31 is my ultimate "wannabe" chapter of the Bible - it details the attributes of a godly woman so fully. The Proverbs 31 woman has no use for unkind words.

Hate. Ignorant. Stupid. Worthless. Useless.

Some words should just never be used against or applied toward another person. Lord, help me to guard the feelings of others by removing them from my vocabulary. Help me to guard my own heart against hurtful words so that they don't have such a crushing impact on me.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable
in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

I may not be able to resist grumbling after a long, stressful day with my girls - but I can control what I say to them in the midst of it. I may not be able to stop nagging my husband to take out the trash and pick up his socks - but I can make more of an effort to temper the requests with kindness. I may not always agree with my friends or my family, but I will not tear them down in the process of saying so.

Yet another quote that I read once (and can't find now) said that a wise person speaks only if it benefits himself or someone else. This is my challenge to myself, one that will likely remain a challenge for quite some time - but that I will continue to strive toward. Anyone care to join me?

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
-Mother Teresa


  1. I LOVE these words!!

    Thank you for praying.
    Your blog rocks!!

  2. Thanks so much, and thanks for dropping by! I love your blog too, and now I'm reminded to pray for you every time I check my blog and see your button. :)