I was running errands the other day, driving in an area that I’m often in, passing landmarks I frequently pass. But this day, for some reason, the hotel on the corner caught my eye…one of the handful of hotels my kids and I stayed in during the most chaotic season of my first marriage.

And you know what is fascinating? The memory that flooded my mind.

It wasn’t of the fight that preceded that particular overnight stay.
It wasn’t of sitting on the hotel beds and having to tell my kids something I never wanted to have to tell them.
It wasn’t of the gift dropped off by a dear friend who knew that was our home away from home for the night.

The absolute first thing that came to my mind was of an email I received the next morning from someone who BLASTED me for how I was handling myself in that current situation, saying how weak I was, saying I should be kicking butt, saying I should be stronger like so-and-so would be.

What’s my point in all this?

That hotel stay was a solid seven or so years ago. And the thing that came rushing back into my memory as if it were yesterday was horrible words spoken to me by someone not even involved in the situation.

Words wound.
Words stick.
Words haunt.

Those words – those awful, awful words – are a part of my membrane now. They are woven into the fabric of my heart. They are woven into the fabric of my relationship with this person (when I think of this person, this seven-year-old email often sweeps through my mind). Those words will never ever go away.

Words spoken can never be unspoken, can never be unheard.
Words can be forgiven, but typically harsh words are rarely truly forgotten.

However, kind words can heal. I, thankfully, have an arsenal of those to fall back on as well. Things like, “You can mess this up completely and I’m not going anywhere,” and “You led us well through that time, Mom,” and “All of this sucks and I’m so sorry you’re going through this but you will get through it, better than before”.

So as I was driving past that hotel and as I was instantly sent reeling back into my painful past as old word-shards pierced my heart, I reminded myself that a word unspoken does not have to be forgiven.  That if I’m quiet – even when I have a mouthful to say – I won’t have to apologize, I can’t hurt someone with my carelessness.

Sidenote: a little trick of mine that I try to remember to employ (okay, maybe only about a third of the time) is to take those word-shards captive when they niggle back into my brain, even outloud saying STOP, and then replacing them with capital-T Truth.

For instance, “you’re an idiot”.
No, I’m precious and honored in God’s sight and he has given me a spirit of a sound mind.

So, today, what words do you need to replace and what words are you going to use to replace them?

And, is there anything you’ve been wanting to say to someone, just waiting for the right time, that you perhaps can keep to yourself?

Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. -Proverbs 16:24


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Life isn't always how we want it. When change seems elusive, and we're stuck in old routines, a gentle push or some self-reflection can make a difference. Let these questions be that nudge to get you moving.

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