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When someone says, “I owe you an apology,” have they really apologized? It seems to me that until they say the words, “I’m sorry,” it doesn’t count. Owing an apology is like saying, put it on my account!

“That show’s been running for seven seasons and I never miss it,” a commenter online said, and I had to mull that over. Does that mean they like the program? Or perhaps they don’t watch it, and frankly, they don’t miss it either?

“Hey, Ruth! Long time!” It was an old acquaintance I’d run into at the store. “You look exactly the same!” he said, to which I replied, “Thank you!” I assumed it was meant as a compliment, but was it? What if he’d actually meant, “You looked like forty miles of bad road twenty years ago, and dagnabbit, you look exactly the same today! My condolences!”

Maybe we’ll never know what other people are thinking. The best we can do is to be truthful yet tactful, choosing our words carefully. With any luck, we’ll be able to make our point in a kind and thoughtful way. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Step with care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.” 

pick the fruit

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.  Proverbs 18:21 KJV

You’ve probably heard this passage from Proverbs, but the translation from the Bible version called “the Message” really stopped me in my tracks.

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

Wow! This one really brings it home in a jarring way. And I remembered many times when this was the gospel truth in my life.

Like that time in the ER last month, when the nurse was about to draw blood. I was comforted by the fact that she was about my age. She must have loads of experience, I thought. Just as she was about to poke me with the needle, I glanced at her name tag. “Nurse Intern,” it said. Uh-oh, said my mind. “Big stick,” she said as she inserted the needle. And sure enough, it felt like she was stabbing me with a big stick. Oh, joy!

Other nurses have used different words. The best one said, “Little pinch,” as she inserted the needle, and, true to her word, it did just feel like a little pinch.

A friend of my son’s mentioned that a teacher told him that he has ADHD. I said, “Well, I think all Americans have it to some degree since we’re constantly multi-tasking and can’t focus fully on anything.”

While he may have ADHD, I didn’t want to put poison into his psyche. Labels are limiting. They say, This is all you can accomplish in life, as if you’re not “up-to-par.”

God created you; that’s all I need to know. If he gave you a condition, you will learn to work around it. You can do anything you set your mind to. Resources will come. Doors will open. Your life will be magnificent.

Aren’t those words of encouragement better for your soul than ones that wound, or make you feel like you can’t make it in life? If you liked hearing them, pass them on. Whenever you’re faced with the choice of words that hurt or words that heal, my advice to you is simple: pick the fruit; control the poison.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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