As a former and recovering people pleaser, I have spent many years walking on egg shells and being very careful when sharing my thoughts or opinions with others often out of fear of offending or being met with anger. My Dad always would tell me in my growing up years, “you can’t please everyone, and there are those who can’t be pleased.” Dad, I am still not there but I am learning. He also would say that you could please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time and that if I did not stand up for myself no one else would. Dad, I am learning. Some lessons are just learned by time and by experience and some take a life time to iron themselves out it seems.
My most recent encounter with the power of words is that no matter what words you use, how gentle or loving you attempt to use them, there is always the chance that someone will take offense or that they will be used against you. My most recent encounter was a stance for free speech, but because it was on such a hot topic, it came back to burn me deeply. My full intent was to stand up for Chick-fil-a’s right under our Constitution to express their belief both under freedom of religion and freedom of speech. The moment we take those rights away from any group, we are all subject to loosing those rights. No matter what group we are affiliated with, there will be others that don’t like our stance and want to take freedoms away from us. There are many that would like to discredit and shut down the voices of their opponents in this world despite the laws in our land. What I found was when someone doesn’t like what you have to say or doesn’t agree, even when you have gone to great lengths to be understood and are not trying to change their mind but just expressing your thoughts, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Sometimes people read between the lines and see things in your words that you did not say or imply and that have nothing to do with where your heart really is. This can happen for many reasons. Sometimes it is hard to have the right words to express our true hearts, other times feelings on the topic just run very deeply and our words cannot be heard or received the way they are intended no matter how well intended or loving they are meant to be. There are even rare times when you will just not be accepted for the basic fact that your beliefs are different from another’s.
The basic fact in all of this is we live in a diverse world full of individuals with different ideals, different beliefs, different agendas, and different personalities. America is founded upon freedom and we should celebrate the right of others to think differently than ourselves without trying to shut them up or force them to change. Having said that, when we share our opinions we are due the same courtesy in return and that is to be heard and accepted for what we say without any reading between the lines, or attacks on our character. Sadly, civil discourse often gets lost in controversial conversations and it degrades to insults and attacks.
Where have manners, civility, respect and tact gone in our world? Every human being should be respected on the most basic level because they are a creation of God. Respect is something we give, trust is something we earn and if we disagree we can disagree agreeably or in a way that is respectful rather than tearing down those who think differently. Life and death are in the power of the tongue.