Words Don't Hurt (and Other Lies We Teach)


Angie Ryg shares why a mother's words to her daughter can build her up and build the community between them, or they can tear her down and destroy their relationship brick by brick.

I came across a video from a friend who is passionate about sharing the love of Jesus to young women everywhere.  When I watched it, I felt such a respect for this woman who had been hurt so badly and also challenged with the fact that my words have serious impact – even when I think I am “just helping” my daughter. I believe  this man thought he was helping.  And to me, that was the saddest part: The realization that harm can come when you are thinking you are helping.

Here is the gist of the video:

A man wrote to a television reporter to tell her that she should lose weight and be a better example to people watching her.  The woman came back and responded on television, not with fighting words, but to say, "Don’t you think I know I should lose weight, but the real point here is the fact that you think you can criticize me with no relationship to me whatsoever.  You don’t know my story and you have no connection with me.  How can you think you are really helping when you are only hurting with your words?"

It is like a simple hammer.  It can help build a house or it can tear down a wall.

One side is the face.  The place where the nails are set and it helps build places that are created for people to gather and enjoy community.  And then there is the side that destroys.  The claw that rips apart sacred places with a few hard hits.

Our words are like this hammer.  With a few thoughtful words, we can build someone up and encourage a soul.  And with a few careless words, we can shatter a fragile soul.  Possibly one that looks strong from the outside, but behind those walls there is emptiness and these  few words, even if they are only meant to “help out a bit,” might cause major damage.

This hit home recently. My daughter had been out all afternoon with her cousin riding bikes and going to Jimmy John’s.  What a perfect day for teens, right?  When she got home, I noticed that the shorts she was wearing were a little short.  They were not crazy Daisy Dukes and I did not notice them before, but I just offhandedly said, “Don’t wear those shorts anymore.  They are a little short.”

My daughter dresses very modestly, so she got upset and wondered why I didn’t tell her earlier or why I had to tell her at all, because I think she thought that now it ruined her day that she was wearing inappropriate shorts all day.  She was embarrassed that she wore them that short and my words made her feel bad.  I had not thought for one second before I uttered those words of “help.”  I did not think what she would think or how she would feel after having worn them all day.  I didn’t even think about the fact that she purposely is very careful about what she wears.  I didn’t think about the fact that as she is getting older, she is becoming more aware of her body.  I just spurted out what I thought was a harmless comment.

The video and this interaction once again reminded me how important my words are to my daughter and to myself.  The words I say to her can build her up and build a community between us or they can tear her down and destroy the relationship brick by brick, word by word.

For the Mamas:

Let us all pray for each other as we lead and raise and love these young women and let us pray for words seasoned with grace and love.  May we pray before we speak so that the Spirit may fill our words with His kindness and wisdom.  And may we build into them so that we have a thriving relationship so that when there is a time that we do need to confront, we have created a connection that is so strong and full of love, the words will be listened to out of love and respect.

For the Young Ladies:

May you give us grace when we speak and the right words do not come out.  May you feel so loved by God, you feel beautiful, welcomed, and wanted into the community that is your family – this place where God put you to grow into a Godly woman after His heart. May you use your words to build up rather than tear down those in your circle of friends and family.

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