Hurtful words. Sometimes they come in angry snarls and shouts of frustration. More often though they come disguised as just being honest, or getting something off one’s chest. The funny thing about that is that the one who is just ‘being real’ walks away feeling lighter for unloading their burden, while the other person is now left shell-shocked and wounded.
These are some words I stumbled across recently. I wrote them at a time when I was processing a hurtful exchange with a friend. It feels incredibly unsafe to share this, but I feel compelled to do so, unedited.
I think I am bleeding to death. I have no tangible lacerations, but I am bleeding nonetheless. I wish these wounds were material. Then I could stitch them up or cauterize them and go merrily on my way, thinking no more on my mishap. Proverbs 12:18a says, “There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword;” and indeed, I have felt its blade. Humans are a funny lot. When one perceives an offense, he lashes out with stabbing words and in the doing, becomes an offender himself. Then relationships lie broken and bloody, sometimes never to be whole again.
Finding these words is timely because I am once again confronted with hurtful words from a friend. A painful reminder that once again I have been misread and misunderstood. For me it amplifies the knowledge that, in the end, I really am alone in this world.
Strangely, I have come to the conclusion that this is not necessarily a bad thing. I need to remember to be careful with my words. Even if I manage to skillfully impart them, the capacity for misunderstandings is vast and unpredictable. And truth, no matter how lovingly spoken, may be perceived as harsh and judgmental.
Proverbs 12:18 goes on to say, “but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” This more than anything is what I desire my words to do—bring healing and hope to the recipient. Too often, though, I fear that the Lord would say to me what He said to Job: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) How often do we speak without knowledge of the whole situation? How often do we foul up our Lord’s best plans with careless speech? And how often do we wound others under the selfish guise of ‘being honest’?
Words are a gift.
Lord, help me to choose them wisely, and present them with right motives. Let even the hard words be spoken in humility and truth. And may healing, encouragement and restoration be ever the result. Amen.