Everyday people say and do things that have some kind of effect on the people they interact with. As a teacher I was trained to use encouraging words when I see good behavior rather than negative words when I see bad behavior. Even though I have been taught that I still have been known to say somethings that hurt someone deeply. I will admit there have been times where I wanted to hurt someone because they hurt me. Was that right? No it wasn't, but it was the bad choice I made in that moment of hurt.
At the same time I have had some horrible things said to me that have had a tremendous impact on my life. Some of them held me back because they created a fear in me that I would never succeed at what I tried. I've been told I had no talent, that no man would ever love me, that I was fat, that I was lazy, worthless and tons more terrible things. I don't say that for a pity party. If this year has taught me nothing else it is that all of that was just terrible lies, but at the same time when I heard those things they crushed my spirit for a time.
I kind of consider myself damaged goods to a point. From an early age I was told things that shaped how I felt about myself. I am learning to overcome a lot of that, but I still struggle with some of it on a daily basis. There are things I have not tried because I feared failing. I held myself back rather than diving head first into something new and challenging. I took the easy way out more times than I care to admit all because I believed the things I had heard. I bet the people that said those things to me never thought about the profound affect they would have on me.
So what have you said to someone that has impacted them in a negative way? I have learned from my own words that a thousand apologies can't take back a comment that hurts. You can say you are sorry or that you don't mean it, but it can never be unsaid. The same goes for lies. This week I watched someone I care about deeply get hurt by a horrible lie. This is the kind of thing that will affect this person for the rest of their life. Did the person that lied have any idea what they were doing with their lies? In this case I think they did, but in many cases the people who lie are so busy trying to protect themselves that they never give it a thought about what they are saying. Sometimes they may see the results of the lies and sometimes they may not or they may not care, but the pain is still there.
People say we live in a country of cry babies. People sue over the smallest thing or cut people out of their lives over something ridiculous, but there are somethings that people say that are so horrible they have a lasting effect that can never be undone. Why do we do it? Do we live in such a self centered society that we don't think about anyone else's feelings? Do we not learn from our mistakes and not repeat them? The answer more times than not is no. This is the me generation. People think about themselves first and no one else. They think about how they feel and what they want and never take into account how their words or choices will impact anyone else. I've heard excuse after excuse. "Things just happen." "You hurt me so I hurt you." "I didn't get what I wanted." "It won't happen again." It is all a bunch of crap and yes I include myself in one of those excuses.
What do you think would happen if we all started putting others feeling before our own? What do you think would happen if we stopped being a me society? What do you think would happen if we stopped to think before we spoke? I think it could change the world. We live in a "If it feels good do it" kinda world, but that isn't what God wants for us. He has something so much better than what we want for ourselves, but we have got to stop trying to put ourselves first and stop tearing each other down and lying.
I pretty much suck at lying. Sure I have done it, but in the end I either feel guilty and end up telling the truth or it comes out anyway because I am so bad at it. When I was in high school and college people would say don't ask Bethany what she thought because she would tell you. I will admit I gave my opinion with little regard to how it was received. I was young and stupid and did not think about the consequences of my words. Did I crush someone's spirit? No, but if you had on an ugly dress I was sure going to let you know. The thing is though I didn't lie, not even when it would save someone's feelings. I guess that is why it is so hard for me to deal with lying. I can't do it. I have seen the damage it does and I don't want to do that to someone else.
I have seen what lies and hurtful words can do, but I have also seen what positive words can do. They may not be able to undo all the damage of lies and hurtful words, but from the right person they can bring a smile and they can be encouraging.
My challenge to everyone is to say more positive things and to be more positive. You never know what someone may be dealing with. They could be living with a life time of hurt and your positive comment could be a bright spot in their day and if you put enough of those bright spots together maybe they can overcome the hurtful words and lies they have heard and be something they never dreamed possible. I know I still struggle every day with the things I have heard and the lies I have been told, but with God's help and some great friends I am learning to overcome them. I know I am more then what those people would have me believe and I know that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I hope that you see the same for yourself as well.