A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.
– Proverbs 29:11
Words that were said that hurt and severed what was once a wonderful loving friendship, harmed a marriage or tore apart a family often could have been avoided if chosen more carefully or examined for truth by the recipient. Proverbs also tells us that not all that we feel needs to be said and it is foolish sometimes to “vent” on one another and then expect the other person to overlook them when an apology was offered or “I didn’t really mean it” was said. In my marriage book “Happily, Even After” we made the point in one of the chapters that “Words can create wounds that other words cannot heal.” This is why Proverbs 29:11 is important for us all to remember in any relationship where communication is frequent and often emotions are involved. This is what is in view in this chapter and not the vitriolic spewing of those who may attack you with words simply because of what you believe or because they have issues with anger or self control. The verbal abuser can wound the heart just as the physical abuser can the body.
I have had more than one laugh with a well meaning person as I greet them at the door of the church who have said to me after a service; “Wow, you have gotten way better”. I can see the scene in their mind play out almost in slow motion as a pained look comes over their face and they blurt out; “I didn’t mean you were lousy before!” I am always blessed to let them off the hook and tell them that I am glad that I am improving as a communicator of the gospel and that it is evident that I am growing. I could chose to walk away from that comment feeling insulted even though it was heartfelt and truly meant as a compliment. This can happen to anyone and usually does to everyone. The point is, lifelong relationships have ended or been damaged either because the person hit by friendly fire was not willing to examine the incident for any truth that can be taken from it, or even allow someone a little latitude and accept that maybe what was said was an innocent misstatement and was taken differently than it was intended. Too often, instead of immediate resolution, which can come by taking these first two steps in handing friendly fire, resentment begins to fester and the relationship is damaged and all too often, permanently. Those are two easily resolvable situations if we are willing to lay aside pride for the sake of the relationship and learn and grow from faithful “word wounds” of a trusted friend.
Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.