“A torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words bruise the heart of a child.” 
―    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I was setting up my ironing board yesterday yes I DO still iron and I was thinking about how much I love my iron.  It is pink and has a retractable cord.  I want a vacuum cleaner with a retractable cord, too. Cords just seem to get in the way, don’t you think?  My purple hairdryer is retractable.  So is my purple hand mixer.  Dog leashes are retractable.

The one retractable item I have yet to find?  Words.  When we speak out of anger or frustration.  When we speak without thinking or common courtesy. Words. Hurt. Others.  I have done it.  Both non-intentionally AND intentionally.  I am not proud of either.  Apologies can be extended and accepted.  But the words are not forgotten.  They tend to linger in the brain for years to come.

“A good word costs no
more than a bad one.”
— (English proverb)

Yes, I have been on the receiving end of  those non-retractables words and actions, too.  Some have forever changed my life.   Do you recall some awful thing spoken to you by a teacher or classmate years ago?  I do.  I remember being told, “I don’t like you” and “You are an ugly duckling” and “You look good with a little weight on you.”  Some words will end relationships that probably needed to be finished.  Others will create more life challenges and struggles.  All because of the words of “one”.

“A careless word may kindle strife,
A cruel word may wreck a life,
  A timely word may lessen stress,
A loving word may heal and bless.”
— Author Unknown

The Bible talks about our words speaking life or death to others.  My intention is not to get  preachy on you, I detest that.  But I would like to give you AND me, something to ponder on. What are your words doing for others?  I really hope to speak “life”.  And if am not, then my mouth needs to be taped shut.  Except when I’m driving.  I don’t think that counts. 

I wish there were a rewind button sometimes.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
— Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

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38 Responses to Retractables

  1. You are so absolutely right. We’re with you on the driving, although we have to be careful when we’re transporting talking birds 😉

  2. annewoodman says:

    Yes, I agree… we tend to remember those bad words more than the good. But I try to use a lot of good words when I speak to my loved ones and also not be stingy with the compliments when someone deserves a pat on the back. A sincere compliment can brighten someone’s whole day: I know, because it’s happened to me. ; )

  3. I still remember somebody telling me that my nose was big in junior high. It still hurts, among all kinds of other comments. I think sometimes my biggest problem is letting these words replay in my mind and therefore I hurt myself. We need to be careful with others and ourselves.

  4. Jeannette Wynne says:

    Wonderful post and something we all need to be reminded of from time to time. If we would only think always before speaking in these kinds of situations.I’m trying (yes, it’s a daily choice) to think more before reacting to situations. By the way, I have you beat on the retractable iron cord, mine is cordless:)

  5. Juliana says:

    So true Paula…I love this post. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Dottie Whitsitt says:

    I still iron too Paula….no retractable cord though 🙂 So true about words…once spoken they will always be there!! Hope everyone who reads your blog today will try & remember to be kind when speaking to and about others 🙂

  7. This was beautiful and well spoken. I too have uttered words I wish I could take back; it is an awful feeling, especially for someone who worries and replays life’s events when she should be sleeping.
    As for the retractable vacuum cord, they used to make one, but I guess it was too short, so it lost interest. What would be really useful is a really powerful rechargeable one, so there would be no cords! Now that would be handy, oh and it would also change heads automatically when you went from surface to surface – while we are dreaming. 🙂

  8. Also, I noticed that all your appliances were either pink or purple; is your vacuum also of the girly color? You must look long and hard to find them in those colors! 🙂 I too go for that color pallet when I can find it.

  9. Ah…my appliances are so boring now…no colors, boring old cords, I am going to have to change that…

    More importantly though, your post could not be better timed. It’s beautifully written and honestly, your transparency with both sides of the experience make it so relateable.

    I spent the better part of last night talking with my 8 year old about kindness, mean words, hurting friends, etc. There was a ‘situation’ between he and his best friend and we spent a long while talking about exactly what you wrote about this morning. When I was reading it, I was amazed at the timing. I even shared with my son about a time when I know for a fact that I hurt someone, long long ago, in high school, and how it haunts me to this day and how I cannot take it back, as compassionate and truly sorry I have been ever since. I too wish there was a rewind button.

    I really think I am going to have him read what you wrote…[will let you know how that goes!].

    So, you could have never known, but thank you for this…so much!

    • As long as your appliances WORK that is all that matters! Your son will learn from your honesty, But he’ll learn from just living it, too. It’s good that he has you guidance though. I will never forget my youngest son when he was four saying, “So then how should I say it to him, Mom?” And I guess that sums it up. It’s about word choices. USUALLY, your point can be driven “nicely”. Altho~ my other favorite saying IS “I’m nice the first time.” 🙂

  10. Pingback: Sunday School « {PaperKeeper}

  11. mimijk says:

    I’m now on my third re-read of this fantastic post!! Your connection of retractable cords with intractable words is brilliant and so dead-on! The unkind word sears into the skin, and somehow the kind words rarely have the same staying power. I can remember so many hurtful words, and struggle to remember their corollary from the same time period. Perhaps because the kind words are more gently spoken? More vanilla?? I don’t know – but perhaps if we could remember the power of words we could use them to a better result..

    • A good point. Those negatives given more shelf life in our memory bank than the positives. And maybe it IS in the delivery? Or is it the perception we have of ourselves? Regardless… and death is held in our hands. Thanks for the read (S) ! ♥

      • mimijk says:

        My own theory is that the negative voice is always louder and resonates longer. Think of all the movie roles – the good voice rarely gets the nod (or is remembered) – the negative voice has the best lines, the most dramatic opportunities and the most attention. Just an interesting dynamic, and one which we seem to gravitate to. Yet, all of us, so dearly need and deserve the positive voice. Our challenge is to incorporate it with the same seriousness with which we give all the stuff which diminishes our perception of ourselves. Sorry for the soap-boxing – something I think about a lot, I guess..

  12. russtowne says:

    So true. Thank you for your kind words!

  13. kizzylee says:

    hi i hope its ok i tagged you in this game of tag i am in if you want to go here i would hope you join in it would be great if not thats cool have a great day xx

  14. julie b says:

    Last week’s children’s sermon by my friend Jill (who BTW has a sis named Julie!)…One kid squeezed all of a tube of toothpaste out onto a plate, next kid emptied a can of shaving cream, next kid a can of whipped cream…the next kid was instructed to put it all back…oops….couldn’t do it? Just like our words, once they’re out there are no take backs…best to make our words good ones the first time!

  15. Excellent post… words to live by.
    I still iron too…

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