Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
Do you ever look back on something you did or said and just cringe?! How did you ever think that was a good idea? Why on earth would you ever justify doing that? How could you talk to someone that way? Unfortunately, I’ve had many of those moments...insert foot in mouth.
A few years ago, I used a phrase that rarely brings good things—“I told you so.” During a large event, a co-worker (not to mention a dear friend) of mine was extremely stressed. We had discussed an issue about the event, but she had decided not to take my advice—which is fine. Unfortunately, the night of the event, she panicked about the very issue we had discussed and came to tell me about it. What an incredible moment for me to have comforted her, consoled her, helped her, done anything for her. A moment that someone needed encouragement, validation, a hug. But being stressed out with my own responsibilities, I simply said “I hate to say it, but I told you so.”
Ugh. My cheeks still flush hot with shame when I think about that. What a snarky, smart-aleck, insensitive comment. What a misrepresentation of my heart, and God’s heart. My dear friend simply looked at me and walked away distressed.
Of course the event went great that night. But I didn’t enjoy any of it. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed and guilty that I would belittle someone I love and show such poor leadership and insensitivity. After the event, I asked if she would forgive me.
The power of words is so profound. Rarely do our words have a neutral effect on someone. Unless you say “I told you so—I TOLD you that you were going to be great!” “I told you, you could do it!” “I told you, you are so capable!”, don’t ever use that destructive phrase the way that I did. It is so unhelpful, so unnecessary. I wish I had that moment again so I could say, “How can I help? It will be great! Don’t worry! Let’s figure it out together.” Our words can positively or negatively affect people, and I want to choose to build people up with my words. I want to be a Barnabus…his name means “Son of Encouragement.” I love that!
I’m grateful for the grace and forgiveness my friend showed me, and for the opportunity, although it was a hard lesson, to learn just how powerful words can be.
Use them wisely…