Sometimes I mean them. Sometimes I am joking… kind of. And sometimes I don’t realize how dumb they are.
And often, when I say dumb things, my words hurt people. I can’t imagine the damage my words have done over the years.
You know that lie we learned to tell when we were kids: Sticks and stones… Yeah that one. Words hurt.
I’ve been hurt by them. You’ve been hurt by them.
I’ve hurt with them.You’ve hurt with them.
But the thing is, dumb things are usually said in a moment of weakness. Dumb things are said to break the ice. Dumb things are said without thinking. And almost all of us have walked away from saying something dumb, wishing we could have those words back.
We want our friend, father, mother, brother, sister, even our enemies to know that we know the power of our words, and that we regret what we said over them. In this moment, If you are reading this and I have said something dumb to you–and it hurt–I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I was a jerk. I was insecure. In that moment I spoke words over you that dehumanized you. I said something that took away your dignity. I flat out lied about who God has named you. I’m sorry.
I’m also realizing how much I still carry the things people have said to me. Years ago. Some people have said dumb things to me and I am still believing they are true about me, and that they are true of what that person thought of me.
But the thing is, dumb things were said to me in a moment of weakness. Dumb things were said to me to break the ice. Dumb things were said to me without thinking. And dumb things were said to me by people who wished they could have those words back. My friend, father, mother, brother, sister, and even my enemy knew the power of their words and regretted what was said in that moment over us.
In this moment, if you are reading this and you have said something dumb to me–and it hurt–I forgive you. I’m learning to not give power to words said in jerky, insecure moments. I’m sorry I held on to that thing for so long. I’m sorry I ever allowed it to affect me as long as it has. I’ve learned that my dignity comes from how creator God sees me. I’ve learned that what God has named me is true.
I’m learning that I can forgive dumb things said to me, because God has forgiven the dumb things I have said to others.
We live in a culture where our words can have a larger impact than ever. A joke told verbally might be funny, but in print, online, it hangs in the room and becomes awkward, and stings a bit longer. We can hit enter on our devices and cause harm without seeing the reaction of the person on the other side. Sometimes, we don’t know the power of our words.
Over the next two years (does it ever really stop) we are going to be reminded of the dumb things our neighbors and humans we disagree with have said on their way to political office. Videos will surface of dumb things that were said in a moment of weakness. Dumb things that were said before the power of those words were made known.
Let us be people who are quick to recognize we said something dumb.
Let us be people who are quick to forgive when others say something dumb.
And let us be people who seek to use our words to build up and not tear down.
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”–Proverbs 12:18
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”–Ephesians 4:29-32