Are Your Words Building People Up?

or are they breaking people down?

I feel I have a pretty good sense of humor. I like to have a good time and I love to laugh. Growing up I was pretty sarcastic because I found sarcasm humorous. Sometimes my dad would reprimand me for my sarcasm. He didn’t find it humorous. I’d brush it off. “Whatever, Dad. Don’t be so uptight.” I never thought much of it because I figured we simply had different tastes when it came to humor. As I’ve grown and especially now that I’ve become more aware of the effects of my words on my daughter, I’ve come to realize that my Dad was right.

Photo courtesy of furryscaly at flickr.com, filter added

Photo courtesy of furryscaly at flickr.com, filter added

Sarcasm stings. It is one of the greatest contributors to a toxic home life. It damages relationships and creates hostility.

Some sarcasm is fairly mild and almost harmless. Almost. There is always a risk of hurting someone, even with the gentlest form of sarcasm. Other times sarcasm can downright enrage someone and is completely uncalled for.

Say we make a joke and follow it with, “Haha! Just kidding!” Consider this: If there weren’t any truth to our feelings that motivated what we are saying saying, we wouldn’t have come up with the joke in the first place. There is always a little part of us that is not kidding. That little part is what hurts people.

Dictionary.com defines caustic as follows:

  1. capable of burning, corroding, or destroying living tissue
  2. severely critical or sarcastic:
    a caustic remark

I’m not trying to be a total buzzkill here. Humor has its place. Caustic humor, however, is dangerous.

It can be challenging to balance fun with being considerate of others’ feelings. Sometimes we get a little carried away and say hurtful things, in which case we must apologize and ask for forgiveness. Most adults are able to accept an apology and move on (able, though not always willing). Children, however, are extremely sensitive, and our harsh words can leave a longer-lasting mark on their spirits. We need to be extra sensitive to what we say to our kids so that we don’t hurt them with careless, critical remarks.

Whether interacting with adults or kids, remember these lyrics from Hawk Nelson’s song “Words“:

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts or
Put it out
Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

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