It seems like we all “know” someone who’s suffering. You get why the quotations are there – because knowing someone involves a whole lot more than scrolling past their face on a social media site. It seems like people now are more aware than ever of the struggles unfolding in the lives of those around them. We’re aware, but disengaged. A few words of condolence posted as a comment (with or without a sad emoticon), then on to the next headline. This just doesn’t go deep enough.
How do we use our words wisely when we’re in the presence of someone who’s hurting, struggling, suffering or grieving? I think I’m the right person to pose this question. In my great appreciation for words, I’ve found my foot in my mouth too many times. What starts out as a desire to encourage someone quickly turns into a train wreck when too many words slip. (“There is ruin in a flood of empty words,” Ecclesiastes 5:7 reminds me!)
Motherhood is the vehicle God has most used to teach me about the importance of my words. The words I speak either tear down or build up, and it can be a moment-to-moment battle deciding which to hold back and which to release. As everyone knows, there’s no getting back a word once it flies forth!
Do you know the sick feeling you get when disturbing words are set on replay mode in your mind? Sometimes they’re things that others have said to you, and other times they’re your words that you know have caused pain for someone else. I had an experience recently that left me with one of those brain tapes that wouldn’t shut off.
A friend with good intentions boldly addressed me about a complex topic that’s personal to our family. I consider myself an open book, willing to discuss almost anything with a friend; personal topics don’t usually bother me. In this case, it wasn’t the topic but the tone that was difficult to digest. My friend, whom I love and respect, didn’t fully understand the situation about which she spoke. This got me thinking about the times I’ve spoken assertively into someone else’s situation when I would have been wiser to remain silent. If we truly understood the far-reaching power of our words, we’d surely be more careful to measure them!
The next couple of posts will come from special guests. I’m excited about what they will share because their experiences have shaped in them sweet sensitivities toward fellow journeyers. I believe they are able to offer us valuable insights on our journey toward making each word a gift!