OK, so this Friday’s Fare is more Food for Thought. I like food for thought, especially when I can randomly talk about whatever is on my mind. My blog…my food for thought.
And today’s food is very simple. It’s about a word.
That’s right. One single word.
It has the power to change the entire mood of a gathering, destroy a person’s self-esteem, or create a rift between people.
I’ve been pondering this word for a long while…almost eight weeks. This word has crept up time and time again. It’s a hateful word when used inappropriately. It tears people down, creates emotional upset, ruins lifelong relationships.
What single word could possibly have so much power?
Would you believe me if the word is “you?”
I never realized how such a word can be so dangerous. But it is. I’ve had several instances over the past eight weeks that have taught me how wounding the misuse of the word “you” can be:
“You make me feel like…”
“You need to…”
“You are a …”
“You should just…”
There are any number of sentences, destructive sentences that begin with that one single word. I’m certain that I’m not alone in experiencing the power of being told what “I” have done or how “I” have made someone feel or what “I” should do. Whether it comes from a friend, neighbor, business partner, or family member, it really hurts.
What I have discovered, however, is that this type of negative-speak is a projection of what people are feeling and thinking about themselves. If you replace the word “you” with the even more powerful word “I” (adjusting grammar appropriately, of course), the sentence can take on a new meaning.
A truthful meaning.
Ever since I came out of surgery on December 1st, I have been struggling with several different situations involving the misuse of the word “you” and, on each occasion, I have been tested…Am I strong enough to overcome the hurt and sorrow of being blamed for someone else’s feelings, desires, needs?
That’s where the Food for Thought comes in.
There is a more powerful word than “you” and I bet I don’t have to tell you that it’s “God.” When someone tries to bring you down, you only have to look in one place to be uplifted: God. There are many wonderful verses in the Bible that talk about wisdom vs. foolishness. One in particular has helped me as I re-read Proverbs, a wonderful book for helping me understand both the good and the not so good things that happen in life:
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding. (Proverbs 9:6)
I talk a lot about weeding my garden so the flowers can bloom. Years ago, when I started working in academia, I reported to a dean who was very proper and not always very nice. She used the “you need to” on me: You need to weed your garden so the flowers can bloom!
At first, I was really upset. I was raising two children, working a part-time job (despite full-time hours), teaching, and running a non-profit to help poor people. My garden was filled with plenty of flowers, thank you very much. However, she was right. In considering her words when I had stopped pouting and being angry, I recognized the wisdom of that “you” statement.
And I quit my job.
My job was a weed and it wasn’t letting my flowers bloom.
The bottom line is that not all “you” statements are hurtful. Indeed, some can heal. Used properly, the word “you” can bring love and happiness to a person’s life.
“You make me feel wonderful!”
“You need to give me a hug.”
“You are an inspiration to me!”
“You should just be so happy!”
When we hear the negative, it is up to us to decide whether the words are spoken from foolish tongues or truly meant to guide us. We can choose to be hurt by those who are intent on blaming others or we can pray for their shoulders to strengthen so that they can carry the weight of their burdens.
And, if you are not quite certain which it is, turn to the word, the most powerful word, for help: God. By leaning on Him, we can survive any amount of hurt, intentional or not.