I had a particularly painful hangnail, and as I rummaged through the desk drawer to find the nail clippers, my son asked me what I was doing. I explained that if I didn’t fix this fingernail problem, there would be blood. He took one look at me and casually mentioned that the points on the nail clippers were perfect for popping blisters. Evidently the nail clippers were his tool of choice for that job.
Totally grossed out, I finished my task, washed the clippers with very hot water and some soap, and put them away. I didn’t need to hear that.
A word of advice: Bring your own nail clippers if you’re ever at my house.
Last night my husband and I sat our children down to explain to them that they got up way too early in the morning. In their quest to be earlier than the other, they had each set their alarms for 6:05 AM. Preposterous.
As I explained that I would prefer if they would get up a little later for various reasons, mostly because I wanted to reclaim my morning alone time and that I don’t need yapping and conversation that early in the morning, my daughter started to cry. I had hurt her with my words. I was just being honest, but what I was saying made her feel unloved.
“I’m just saying” is a phrase that we use when we sense that we are saying something insulting. “No offense” is another preface or postscript that we use when we are saying something offensive. Usually we say these words when we are going to drop an honest view on a person, but unfortunately, neither one of these phrases is going to bring crowds of fans to our door. The truth hurts, especially when it slaps you in the face.
How many times have I said something that hurt another person, grossed someone out, or said something inappropriate, under the guise of honesty? Countless. I have learned to hold my tongue. The expense of this education is in ruined relationships, the realization that a former acquaintance keeps her distance, the tears of my child. I’m still learning.
When is honesty the best policy? When it will not hurt another person. When you can speak the truth diplomatically. When you are sensitive to another’s feeling and needs. “I’m just saying” doesn’t cut it. We may be just saying, but the effects linger in hearts and minds that could use a little care.
While I take a moment to speak, I can ask God for words that will uplift and get my point across. I can hold my tongue and wait for God to take it over. There still might not be crowds of fans at my door, but there also won’t be broken hearts and feelings in the wake of my words either.
The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Isaiah 58:11 (NLT)
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. James 1:19-21 (NLT)