The saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” is a lie. Sometimes those names and mean words cause wounds far deeper than anything sticks or stones inflict. As a child, having names and taunts thrown at me left scars that still sting from time to time.
Words have power. They encourage or discourage. Empower or belittle. I’ve been on the receiving end of each type of word. And, I have also spoken both life-giving and life-stealing kinds of words.
Maybe it’s because of my childhood experiences that I endeavor to give words of grace. I’m not perfect at this, just ask my kids. But I am working on it. My goal is to speak words that offer life, not steal it. When I speak harshly with a loved one, I usually find myself going back to ask for forgiveness later.
The quote above is one of my life verses. Does speaking graciously mean I don’t share truth if it’s hard for the hearer? No! When I must convey a difficult truth, I pray first. I ask God to give me the right heart to say what must be said. Only after He’s done this do I share hard words. It’s possible to speak a difficult truth without being harsh, but it requires humility on my part.
My kids are much more likely to receive correction if I give it with kindness in my tone and eyes. Isn’t the same true with all those who people our lives? When I speak with kindness–with graciousness–I build others up, give them life, courage, or whatever they need in that moment. May your words be gracious, especially in the most difficult of circumstances.
What about you? When have gracious words brought life to you? What helps you when you have to share difficult truths with someone?