It was one of those flights. Every single seat was filled. Fortunately, I had snagged an aisle seat. At least I thought I was fortunate. Then, the kicking started on the back of my seat.
Immediately, I assumed that the crying child in the row behind me was the source of the kicking. I tried looking over my shoulder, hoping that my “hairy eyeball” would effectively communicate my cease-and-desist message.
Much to my surprise, I realized that the source of the kicking was not a wailing six-year old. It was her mother.
I knew, then, that it was going to be a very long two hour flight.
But that was just the beginning.
Next, the verbal kicking began. But these kicks were not aimed at me. Sadly, they were directed from the mother and father seated behind me to their tearful daughter.
First, the father issued this threat: “I’m not taking you on any more trips. You’re no fun to travel with.”
The child’s wailing escalated.
A few minutes later, the mother loudly proclamed: “You’re not going to have a birthday party this year.”
The wailing continued to build.
Hurtful messages like that continued throughout the flight. As did the child’s tears.
My heart ached for this child…and for her foolish parents.
Before I spend too much time from the vantage point of my high horse, I’m reminded that I’m guilty, too. Yes, we’ve all done it. Said words we’ve regretted. Wished we hadn’t pressed send on a text message. Sent a hurtful email.
And words…once they are out…make a permanent impact.
“Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.”
While my mantra and my mission are to “leave nothing unsaid,” that message refers to affirming, encouraging words. Words that give life to the recipient.
It doesn’t mean to say whatever comes to mind or to unload your frustrations and resentments unchecked on those who are closest to you.
I was reminded on that plane ride of the many things that really are better left unsaid: -Idle threats. -Criticism. -Gossip. -History shared in confidence. -“You always…you never” accusations.
Our words have incredible power, both for good and for harm.
Praying for each of us, as we enter the second half of 2016, that we’ll be intentional about using our written and spoken words to make a positive impact on others’ lives.
“Set a guard over my mouth Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21