Stop and Think. Stop. Think. Repeat.
My husband and I sat through most of the night with a friend that we have known for many years – his new wife at his side. The harsh reality is that our friend is very sick. So sick that this night could quite possibly have been one of his last. So sick that nothing seemed to matter except that very moment in time. And there in the dimly lit intensive care room, all of the words that were spoken were words of love. Words of apology for things past. Words of encouragement to continue the fight. Words of pleading to God for healing. Words of forgiveness. There was no room for anything but kindness, sympathy and compassion.
Lately I have been reminded more and more, of the brevity of life. I have come to realize that we all leave a legacy behind for those who remain. And that childhood saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me,” is quite frankly not true. For what will be left when we are gone are simply our words and actions; the things that we did while we were here that impacted those around us.
Living in a day and age when everyone seems compelled to comment on just about everything that happens in the world presents a special challenge to all of us. Especially considering the impact that social media has on our friends and family. Maybe it’s time for us to really give some thought to what footprints we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. The words that we use can build up or tear down, can encourage or discourage, can hurt or heal.
Sometimes it’s how we say something rather than what we actually say that makes a difference. Occasionally I will read a rant on Facebook concerning a particular situation or news story and feel as if I have been personally attacked; even if it has nothing to do with me. It’s all in the way that the rant is worded. We all have causes that we feel strongly about, and sometimes it seems necessary to let others know how we feel. It is quite another thing to verbally abuse everyone who feels differently than we do. Perhaps before we put anything in print we should picture a dear friend sitting on the other side of our computer reading our words. How would that friend feel after reading them?
The school that I am currently working in has a sign in the hallway that encourages students to use this acronym before saying anything at all:
T- Is it TRUE?
H – Is it HELPFUL?
I- is it INSPIRING?
N-is it NECESSARY?
K-is it KIND?
I wonder what would happen if we all took the time to stop and think before we spoke; whether verbally or through the written word. Perhaps our legacies would look a bit different. When we are gone, our words and deeds are much of how we will be remembered. Personally I am becoming more aware of how my words can affect others and am developing a strong desire to encourage others with them.
Rather than the snarky comment that pops into my head, I am trying to take a second to re-word it or perhaps not say it at all. As much as this girl likes to talk, it is going to be a constant battle. But one worth fighting.