The older I get, or maybe it’s the older my kids get, the more I am convinced that words matter. I have realized they are actually the tiny building blocks of relationships. We use them so carelessly and toss them around like fluff when in fact our words can have the impact of grenades. Words can be much bigger and more impactful that we even realize. In this day and age of social media, when we have the ability to have a thought, write it down (or speak it) and then immediately post it for all the world to read, we must be especially aware that our words matter.
Once upon a time you had the buffer of time and space (and snail mail) to think and reconsider “should I really say that”. Now people don’t stop and think, they just say. And they hurt others. And they start arguments with people they don’t even know. And they add their comments to conversations they haven’t been invited in to. They offer their opinion on matters and in ways that they have no business being involved with in the first place. We wound and walk away because “I didn’t actually hurt them I just gave my opinion”.
PEOPLE! Those words that we carelessly post, those opinions that we freely share, those comments that we thoughtlessly add to conversations….they DO hurt. Often they hurt more than actual punches thrown.
You see our words remain long after we leave. They linger in the air or in the conversation and people come back to them. They re-play them in their minds. They read them again online. They wonder why you ever said them in the first place and something awful begins to happen. Relationships unravel and feelings of hurt turn into resentment and then grudges are born. Grudges grow into hatred and before you know it that hatred moves from being towards one person and becomes towards that person’s whole family, or friend group, or church, or neighborhood, or school or profession or city or state or country or race….and before we know it or even understand why it is happening we begin to act out on our hate.
We become mean and ugly. We say intentionally hurtful things. We make assumptions about others. We are rude...or we withhold goodness. We cease to be kind and loving and generous. We become inappropriately protective of things that don’t actually belong to us like buildings, public spaces, thoughts and ideas, viewpoints, sometimes even churches and political parties. We begin to think that we were given the task of deciding who was invited to this party called life and we demand that people show proof of invitation.
Guess what? We’re all really confused. That old childhood saying of “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”...is all backwards. The truth is that sticks and stones come out and are used to break each other bones all because those careless words that were spoken Hurt.So.Deeply!
And in the process of carelessly flinging our words around, we have somehow forgotten that those words that cause destruction are also powerful when used for good. Our words matter and can be used to undo the damage we have done to one another.
When will we just choose to stop using hurtful, careless words? When will we value words and realize that they matter? Let's start NOW. Let’s speak words of love and kindness and healing. Let’s use those powerful words and say “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong, will you please forgive me”. Words matter! They are powerful. We can heal with our words. We can love with our words. We can fix so many things that are broken with our words. Words start the process of change. Let’s start today to change our words which then change our story and begin to heal our broken relationships and ultimately change our world
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