Avoid Unkind Words and the Harm They Do – Father Lovasik


Speak Kindly

Kind words are a great blessing. They soothe, quiet, and comfort. When a kind word proceeds from your lips, it blesses you and fills others with gladness.

If you greet your family with kind words and a cheerful disposition, even though you are at times weighed down by trials, you will put your worries to flight and lift your spirits.

As hatred breeds hatred, love creates love. There are many dispositions in people, but there is no one who will not respond to kindness and sympathy. Kind words have converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.

Your spouse or children may sometimes betray bitterness toward you and expect unkindness. Respond with a word of kindness, and the rebellious one will be defenseless and often return the kindness. Each kind word will cost you only a moment in this world but will have an important bearing on how you will spend eternity.

Avoid Unkind Words and the Harm They Do

~ Unkind words put others down. By detraction, you make known the hidden faults of another without a good reason; by slander, you injure the good name of another by lying; and by harsh words of ridicule or contempt, you undermine the trust and confidence that should be the basis of family life.

~ Some of the worst sins in this matter are committed in the home by gossip. Children hear their parents using abusive language to condemn their neighbors, to discuss their peculiarities, and to enlarge upon their shortcomings.

It is a wicked thing to teach innocent children to become gossips. Gossip is all the more harmful when it has to do with a member of the family.

Do not listen to gossip about your spouse, much less be easily influenced by it. Gossip is often started by malicious informants who secretly hope to awaken jealousy.

Mutual trust is a great aid toward the preservation of love and harmony in the home.

~Harsh words more than harsh deeds are the termites that can undermine the foundation of a marriage. Even though words seem like little things, so quickly and briefly spoken, does not minimize the power that lies in their bitterness.

What you do is often easier to forgive than what you say. Moreover, when an angry word provokes a quarrel, each party soon has a position to defend.

A “principle” is at stake, you think, when in reality vanity and pride are the only principles involved.

Reinforcements in the form of in-laws enter the picture; soon both sides are mobilized for an all-out war.

People will at least consider almost any suggestion made in a friendly manner. But they will bristle with resentment if it is shouted at them in ill temper.

Not only words but even an angry tone can slam the door of understanding. In disagreements, abusive words crowd the mouth, the doorway way of the heart.

Then stubbornness gets its chance, and the peace that a simple, kind word of apology could have quickly restored is rendered exceedingly difficult.

Too many marriages end up on the rocks because of little words and phrases. Many divorces could have been avoided if husband and wife had refrained from angry bickering and talked over their differences in a spirit of mutual understanding and goodwill.

Uncharitable talk should cause you deep concern, because it may be the source of great harm to your family. You have only to think of God’s judgment and the account that you will have to render on your observance of the Eighth Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

If you thoughtlessly wag your tongue or make it the tool of anger or hatred; if you permit yourself to be swayed by bad temper, selfishness, and vanity; if you judge and blame rashly, try to begin to improve today for the love of God and your family.

The following remedies may curb uncharitable talk in your family.

~ Learn to be silent, especially when you are angry or disturbed, because silence is one of the great helps to avoid sin, to safeguard virtue, and to grow in close union with God. Do not repeat gossip and slander, even if by so doing you can hold the interest of your spouse, children, or friends. Carefully sift the talk you hear. Speak your mind, if you will, but mind what you speak.

~ Openly oppose uncharitable talk or counteract it by eloquent silence. It is a great work of charity to show by your conduct that uncharitable talk disgusts you as much as impure stories do.

~Have a sense of humor, which comes to the rescue in many a trying situation. It enables you to see the funny side of a situation when your attention had been previously engrossed on the distressing side.

Do not save your sense of humor for parties; put it to work in your home, where it is needed most of all. The ability to see humor in a situation often enables you to extricate yourself from a predicament quickly.

A good, hearty laugh will encourage a cheerful spirit in your family. But good humor does not mean ridicule.

A certain amount of good-humored kidding between husband and wife is usually a sign that they are getting along well. But if ridicule is used to sting and hurt, it is a sign that one has lost respect for the other.

~Speak of events, not of people, because a good name – that is, the esteem in which a person is held by his fellowmen and the mutual confidence resulting from this esteem – is a sacred thing, and everyone has a right to it.

If you cannot say anything good about someone, one, say nothing at all.

~ Do not deceive yourself by false excuses for unkind talk, such as, “It’s not so bad or important,” “What I said is true,” or “I told him to keep it confidential.” Consider the damage that might be done to a person’s good name even in what you consider a trifling matter.

~ Avoid harsh and disrespectful words. They wound the heart and disturb the soul. Wisecracks can hurt others, arouse resentment in them, and even engender hate. Avoid personal remarks and bitter sarcasm.

If you wish to keep those you love close to you, laugh with them, not at them. You can destroy love by making scornful, sarcastic, belittling remarks to others, or by telling your friends jokes and humorous incidents that make a laughingstock of your spouse or your children.

At social gatherings, you can offend your spouse’s and friends’ sensibilities by displaying a form of rudeness that you would never tolerate from your children.

How often do you interrupt a conversation to correct someone or to give your interpretation of what he is saying? How often do you contradict him?

~ Make a promise never to speak an angry word to your spouse. Difficulties will arise between you and your spouse, for you are only human. Yet there is no difficulty – no matter how serious – that cannot be settled if you talk it over in a calm, friendly manner.

If you are angry with your spouse, talk it out together. You should share your grievances against each other in loving sympathy: in this paradox lies a precious secret to happiness.

Psychiatrists testify that there is healing in unbosoming ourselves to a sympathetic and friendly listener. It restores peace of mind and a normal healthy outlook. Troubles shared are troubles halved; troubles hidden are troubles doubled.

True psychology is expressed in the Christian teaching that we must make peace with our adversary quickly, by coming to an understanding with him.

What the heart cries for is not an explosion but a release, and the healthy way to achieve that release is for one person to make feelings of injury or injustice clear to the other.

The words most difficult to say are: “I was at fault…. I’m sorry…. Please forgive me.” Yet the person who utters them first proves superiority in character and in magnanimity and wins the greater victory.

Of course, it is destructive to swallow grudges and nourish them quietly. You can rid yourself of resentments without letting them boil up inside you. The best way to approach such situations is to prevent them from developing.

If not nipped in the bud, the tendency to quarrel can become chronic.

~ Be kind and considerate in speech. Substitute expressions of kindness for quarreling and bitterness. Be quick to praise and commend, but slow to criticize. Take particular pains to see that you use your tongue for good, not for evil; to console, not to condemn; to build up, not to tear down; to rejoice at the good fortune of others, not to begrudge them success.

Reassure each other of your love in words of gratitude, appreciation, admiration, sympathy, comfort, and encouragement.

Love needs and thrives on frequent assurances; it dwindles when it is rarely put into words.

Avoid idleness and gossip, remembering our Lord’s warning, “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

As long as you devote yourself fully to your work, you will have neither the time nor the inclination to take part in unkind talk.

Above all, pray for each other. If you prayed for the members of your family half as much as you talk about their faults, how many sins would you avoid and how much happier your family life would be!

“When the results of life are all gathered up—it will probably be seen that the things in us which have made the deepest and most lasting impressions in our homes and upon our children—have not been the things we did with purpose and intention, planning to produce a certain effect—but the things we did when we were not thinking of training or influencing or affecting any other life!” -J.R. Miller

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