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…..be 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,