photo courtesy of Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

In a day of unrestrained rhetoric, people waxing eloquent on social media without thought to the consequences of their words, I’ve been reminded that pausing before speaking, before posting, before demanding may be a wise decision.

During a political season, this could have huge repercussions. That’s not where I’m going.

I’m talking about personal interactions.

I talk with my two sisters each week as a catch-up time since we live so far apart. Having been raised by the same parents with the same values hasn’t taken away our uniqueness. As much as we have in common, we’re all very different.

Of the three, I’m more of a verbal processor. As I speak, my thoughts become clarified in my mind. Which leads to more words. Because of my family and my job, listening has become a needed discipline for me. Something to practice consciously.

it’s not always easy.

I was raised with and work with people who are more introspective than I am. They choose silence to contemplate. I choose conversation to talk it out, to express my thoughts, often without considering the impact of my words at the moment.

Natural verbosity is not an excuse for inconsiderate dialogue. Neither is anger, disappointment, disruption, or disagreement. Making excuses for what we say, how we hurt others with our words, doesn’t encourage helpful dialogue or genuine interaction that seeks to mend bridges and build relationships.

I’ve hurt both my sisters and brother with my words. Often spoken with an impassioned perspective, I frequently don’t give myself a moment to gather my thoughts and proceed with compassion.

The pause that says, “Think about it.”

Social media makes it all too easy to repeat things we’ve heard and haven’t verified, to lash out with emotion over a perceived injustice, or to respond in anger to someone without taking the time to know the whole story.

I’ve done all that.

What gain is there in making your thoughts known yet seeing the carnage those words create?

My Dad was a verbal processor, but he was adamant about how we should consider our words. He would consistently remind us that “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” As a kid, I rarely considered what I said before I spoke.

Don’t we all want to be heard? Want our thoughts and feelings validated? What we say is the platform for how we’re heard.

Recognizing how we speak to one another and what we say is something Jesus spoke often about. He gave us His Word, the Bible, to learn the truth and be able to encourage one another in the hard times–not make times harder for each other. He doesn’t support our wrongdoing, but He is swift to offer grace to those who request it.

They need to pause and ask.

Jesus offers everyone the opportunity to hear the truth. To understand what it means to be heard and to truly hear others. Our backgrounds, differences, hurts, and worries aren’t excuses to treat others with disrespect. We have the opportunity to speak with dignity and integrity.

It will help if we pause and consider our words.

Make them a gift; not a weapon.

 

 

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