Saturday, May 11, 2013

Let's All Practice Kindness With Our Words

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
― Mother Teresa

A friend of mine recently told me a story about a text message her teenaged daughter had received from her biological father with some fairly cutting words. This is not my story to tell, so I won't go into any more details, but I was absolutely enraged.

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"How DARE he?"  I stormed.  "Doesn't he know the long-term effect those words are going to have on her?"  Words can echo through our hearts long after they've been spoken.  As a child, I was told by MY stepfather that I did not belong to him.  Those words continue to clang around in my head even today because they were the first time I had ever truly felt NOT GOOD ENOUGH.  I remember being confused and afraid because, if the person who is supposed to be your parent doesn't WANT you or CLAIM you, then how is anyone ELSE supposed to ever want you?

Fortunately, this teenager has a wonderful, loving mother and a caring stepfather and they will nurture her through this.  But I'm here to offer her something else.  They say it takes a village to raise a child.  Sometimes it's hard for kids to hear something from their parents, so I have a few words of wisdom for EVERY kid out there...especially those of us who are adult children who long to have those old childhood wounds erased.

So, M, this is for you if you're reading...and for anyone else whose heart has ever been broken by a few words.

  1. You are loveable and much loved.  It doesn't matter what anyone else tells you.  You are a unique and amazing creature.  No one else is like you and you bring your own perfect blend of you-ness to every situation.  You are perfectly designed and worthy of love exactly the way you are.
  2. Words can break your heart.  I understand the pain of words.  I get that someone can cut into you so deeply that you feel it in your very bones.  But know this:  words are still only words.  When someone else aims them at you, know that the words originate IN THAT PERSON.  Anything laced with anger or hurt is coming strictly from inside them and (here's the tricky part) they have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU.  They have everything to do with how THAT person is feeling.  They are using you as a human target for their own pain.  They may not even be aware of it at the time.
  3. Love can heal your pain.  I'm going to get all "religious" on you here because that's the place where I'm originating.  God's love is the only love that is ALWAYS there and always free.  Since He is your heavenly Father, you KNOW that you are loved.  That love is forever there for you...even when all human love seems scarce and even when your own earthly father has disappointed you and hurt you.
  4. People are going to let you down.  No one is perfect.  And no one will ever respond to you exactly the way you want them to.  Sometimes people suck.  Accept this as a part of life and love them anyway.
  5. People are also going to exceed your expectations.  You will be surprised.  You will be loved.  You will be delighted by people even as others disappoint you.  Accept THIS as a part of life, too. 
Parents, pay attention to what you say to your kids.  People, pay attention to what you say to each other.  I struggle with this constantly because I have a tendency to cut with my words without ever meaning to.  I react out of pain and the words are flying out of my mouth before I can reign them in.  I am continually working on being silent and THINKING first before speaking.  I fail regularly.

So, after I conquer my Facebook addiction, the next thing I will add to my list is speaking deliberately with kindness as a rule as opposed to the exception.  Who says it has to be the start of a new year to make a resolution?

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