Watching where you step…..



by Kenneth Justice

~There are so many times in my life where I want to let people have a piece of my mind…….but more often than not I bite my tongue.

Isn’t that what we teach our children? To be the better person we sometimes have to take the higher ground and not say what we really want to say.

When my blood starts to boil and I find myself getting really mad at someone I silently tell myself, “just breathe… careful and watch where you step”

Words can be deadly…..and words can leave wounds that last a lifetime.

–> A 41 year old woman told me that when she was in the first grade her father called her fat, it really hurt her. 35 years later, multiple eating disorders, and a lifetime of pain…..this woman still remembers the words her dad said to her.

–> A 39 year old convict told me that he was the end-result of an affair his mother had committed. His step-father resented him throughout his childhood, “You’re no son of mine!” the stepfather told him over and over. All these years later this man still remembers the words his dad used.

–> A 45 year old man told me that shortly after his 17th birthday his Baptist Preacher father kicked him out of the house after finding a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of Jack in his bedroom, 3 years later the father kicked his 18 year old sister out of the house after finding out she had lost her virginity; “You’re a child of Satan and headed to hell” the father had told them in varying degrees. All these years later the son still remembers the vitriol of the words his father hurled at him and his sibling.

When I used to work in the county jail I heard so many stories like the ones above that I began to see firsthand the great harm that our words can inflict upon people. Men in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s could still recite verbatim the negative (or positive) words their parents used so many years ago in the past.

This isn’t to say that one meltdown moment will leave your friends, family, or children hating you for the rest of eternity……..not at all.

But the words we use often say a lot about what is in our heart. Like the Proverb “From the abundance of the heart the lips speak”

In an age when Twitter, Facebook, Social Media, Text Messaging, and other electronic forms of communication blast our words into the world for everyone to see……it is all the more reason why I am so uber-conscious of the words I use.

Electronic communication is instant; with the simple push of a button our words leave us, unedited, to a watching and waiting sea of people.

When my children are older I want them to remember me by the grace I demonstrated toward them; I want them to remember how much I stood by them no matter the decisions they made.

The same goes with my friends, I don’t want them to feel that I am judging them for their beliefs or decisions……I want to support my friends no matter the cost. Isn’t that what being a friend is about? Standing beside your friend till the very end?

When I was a hardcore Evangelical I was taught that it was essential for me to “tell people what I thought”….about everything. As though my opinion about their behavior, what movies they watched, music they listened to, food they ate, etc, actually mattered…….

Thank God I woke up one day and realized that what I’d been taught to do….was wrong.

When I stopped forcing my opinion on people…..all of a sudden I felt a deeper connection between my friends and I;  and even more important I felt a great burden lift off my shoulders.

What a great burden it is to be the world’s moral police; I regret every moment of my youth when I acted that way, when I believed it was my duty to tell everybody around me what ‘I believed’ was wrong with their lives.

Words can hurt…….or words can bless. I’m trying to spend the rest of my life blessing people; it seems like a more noble way to live.

This morning I’m drinking  Sumatra and its time for another cup,



Categories: Religion

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. Oh, it’s always good to have a reminder about this. It is so easy to put our own beliefs and values on other people…and our unkind words…regardless of religion. When I was a vegetarian, I think I became the most judgmental (and vocal) I’ve ever been. 😦 Thanks for reminding us that those words and hurtful attitudes stick around long after they’re said or done.

  2. Believing that you are always right should be a clue that there is something wrong with your thinking. I have so much evidence in hindsight that I was seeing a situation incorrectly that I hold my words mostly. Yesterday an irate woman wanted me to mediate between my friend that wants to be paid for work done for her and her angry self. I said tell me specifically what paperwork he can supply to get paid. She said she wanted a letter saying he was sorry…. and I said “No, goodbye”. I made the decision for myself that I had heard enough blaming words. When it is time to solve a conflict harsh words are deadly. I have a very hard time holding my tongue on the subject of child abuse and abandonment. I have yet to be able to empathize with a parent that chooses self over their children. I have said very unkind things about these mothers and fathers.

  3. i agree there are definitely times to bite your tongue. on occasion, there are times when it’s good to share an opinion, but appropriately. i couldn’t agree more about words and how harmful they are. this may be because im a journalist, but im of the thought that the pen is mightier than the sword. a sword kills you once, a pen kills over and over and over again. people totally underestimate the value of words and it drives me nuts. anyway, love the theme lately, but as i said, i suppose im biased that way. 🙂

    • Jen,

      “The pen is mightier than the sword” I absolutely agree!

      There are a lot of conversations in life that I much prefer having via written communication because of that very reason.

  4. Two gems I absolutely love.

    – What others think about you in none of your business.

    – those that care don’t matter, and those that matter don’t care.

    Brilliant post, as always, and time for another coffee here I think.

  5. I think there’s a big difference between biting your tongue when your words would do nothing more than harm, and speaking your mind when the situation calls for it. I am new to your blog, and can definitely relate to how you want to be remembered as a father – not because we dads want a legacy, but because we should uplift our children in such a way, with belief and faith and love, that they feel they can accomplish anything if they work hard and do the right things.

    Excellent stuff here … I’ll be back.

  6. There is no doubt that the sting of the “curse” lasts long after the “blessings.” In a mere two seconds, two hurtful comments , spoken decades ago, still spring to mind like I heard them, just yesterday. My great-grandmother used to say “if you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.” I find that this wisdom serves as a perfect guide-stick that prevents me from spewing out “curses” instead of “blessings.” I enjoy your posts. Thank you for sharing. Blessings.

  7. All of which is why I have to be extra careful to read over my post BEFORE I hit send. My Kindle is Very creative about changing what I want to say as it grapples with my spelling challenges.

    BTW -Sumatra is one of my favorites too. Thanks. I enjoy your style and topics.

  8. someone who can control his tongue and say what should be said is a truly blessed person. most of us give in to one passion or other and blurt out things that we regret.

  9. This resonates deeply with me. It also made me think of this wonderful commencement speech.

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