Do you remember a time when someone, probably a parent or grandparent said to you or your sibling, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Such a phrase often came after some childhood banter had gotten out of hand. (Siblings angry with each other over who knows what when I think back in my own memory. Although honestly, I wonder if I said it to my own sons.) When I am thinking back about such a phrase, I realize that the comment is more often than not, a good rule for living life. See I think about how often words can either be for building up or tearing down. Choosing our words wisely can be the difference between hurting or helping.
I bring this up because though that comment is made in reference to children, reality is choosing our words wisely is also important when we are trying to support our friends and family who are experiencing various situations in life. You may know what I mean. An example that comes to my mind is when a friend tells you about some situation they are facing. Perhaps what they are looking for is simply someone to listen and hear and sympathize. Yet I know for me, too often, my go to language in response is to offer some ‘supposedly’ great words of advice. I say ‘supposedly’ because often I note my critical thoughts as I hear about the situation thinking “What did you do to get yourself into such a situation?” So too often I jump to offering some supposedly good advice from my experience without a word of prayer which is why I add the clarifying supposedly. See, there may be a time when my advice is sought, and in such a case, I need to pray first and listen for true wisdom that comes from God. It may involve my own experience and if so God can lead us that way. But without that prayer, I would do well to heed the wisdom from that first paragraph and say nothing at all until I hear from God. Of course, I should actively listen to the person sharing about the situation, noting more often than not, what is being asked for is a sympathetic listening ear.
Communicating with family and friends is an important part of life. May each of us listen to our friends and for inspiration from our God as we choose our words wisely, and even choose to be quiet when that is the right action.