Words can hurt.
I think that we as a society pretty much are (finally) officially getting on board with that statement.
Words can uplift.
I think that we as a society pretty much need to super work on this.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
I thought to illustrate this point I would talk about the worst insult I’ve ever been hurled and, in contrast, the greatest compliment I have received.
Of course words hurt more / help more when they are from people that we love, respect, and/or otherwise have an affinity for.
Okee dokee? Ready?
First, the greatest insult I’ve ever experienced:
It was my high school boyfriend. The first one.
We won’t name names, especially since he’s a pretty great person.
ANYWAYS, we were “fighting” over the phone about whatever fifteen year old “couples” fight about (I seriously have no clue now).
I was talking, emphatically working to justify my point, and I heard this halting, slicing, interruption on the other end of the phone, “Listen, cupcake…”
I promise you, if I could have set on fire and jumped through the phone, I would have.
Even writing this today just makes my blood boil a little bit!
See, clearly, it wasn’t the word “cupcake.”
I love, nay, ADORE cupcakes. But, see, he didn’t mean, “Listen, you sweet, sweet girl.”
He meant, “Listen, you spoiled, undeserving, annoying, brat.”
And I am many, many things, but of all the things under the sun to call me, this was the worst!
(don't laugh! seriously!)
See when someone spats an uncreative cuss word at you; it doesn’t really matter, not like this.
This was about attacking my character, my motivation, my intention, my purpose, my everything.
And, of course, it took someone who knew me well, to utilize this power and come up with something so cutting and so hurtful!
I don’t think for even a minute that he remembers this interaction. And that’s the whole point.
Who would remember calling someone a cupcake meanly? But see how much that affected me today?
Seriously, it’s been like over a DECADE, and I still cannot eat cupcakes (totally untrue).
But, it did affect it. And it did hurt me.
That word, however innocent in definition and nature, had impact on my life.
Ok…now the good stuff: the best compliment:
I was speaking with a good friend outside of a conference and she was recounting how she met her fiancé (her now hubby).
We were sitting on giant cement blocks in our work attire and I was feeling dead at my job.
I felt like I was not making a difference to anyone or anything.
I didn’t verbalize this to her, but the conversation went in a direction and I was probably recounting a story, or giving her unsolicited advice (both a weakness and strength I deal with).
She said to me, “Kaitlin, do you know what you are?”
I looked at her, train of thought totally derailed; confused.
“Kaitlin,” she said emphatically, “You are a burning bush! God made some people to plant seeds and quietly help, but that’s not you. You come in, you are on fire, and you just say look here it is: take it or leave it. God made subtle signs like rainbows and then he also set plants on fire.”
That breathed so much life into me. For years I had battled being loud, and passionate, and speaking quickly, and … yes… even unsolicited advice.
This was the first time in my entire life that anyone pointed out that it might be a gift instead of a burden; an asset instead of a interference; something to be exposed instead of hidden.
I know that I’ll never forget that affirmation. It’s helped me mold myself and shape my future.
It’s given me hope and a voice, that I, even in my self-perceived weaknesses, could have been crafted and not just a random result; product of my environment, helpless with no purpose.
Call to Action:
1) I don’t recall either of the conversations around the insult and/or the compliment. Basically, there’s a lot of stuff you say to people that they’re never going to remember. SO, make what you say, impactful and purposeful and driven with direction.
2) Breathe life.
3) Don’t call me a cupcake.
4) Everyone’s going to start calling me cupcake now, huh?