There was a line in a movie that went something like this – family is all that matters; everyone else is just an acquaintance. It’s true. The collection of people we call “family” are bound together by blood, shared ties, memories, and experiences that cannot be duplicated in a friendship. Even in families with adopted children, or in blended families, there is a bond that binds the members together. Kind of the “blood is thicker than water” adage. Whether shared biological blood or spiritual blood.

Family relationships are some of the most wonderful relationships we can experience in life. Family relationships are also hard, complicated, messy, and can cause the deepest pain in our hearts.

Family members know where the hot buttons are in other members. We know the vulnerable spots so that when we are angry we can wield the hurtful words with deadly accuracy. Words are just collections of letters when passed over the vocal chords and with the help of air come to life, but boy are they powerful. They can build people up, or filet them leaving the recipients bloody and raw.

We have all had that happen in our lives, right? A family member is at odds with another or others in the family and all hell breaks loose. We go for the jugular; we don’t mess with the little barbs here and there. War strategies are employed, we work to get others on our side, see our viewpoint. Wait! Aren’t these the very same people we would gladly give our lives up for? Yes! That’s what makes the whole mess so sad, so devastating. The very ones we would defend to the death should an outsider dare to throw sticks and stones our way are willing to thrust the dagger deep into our flesh.

The Bible talks about “careless words”. Matthew 12:36-37 says, “Moreover, I tell you this: on the Day of Judgment people will have to give account for every careless word they have spoken; 37 for by your own words you will be acquitted, and by your own words you will be condemned.” Whether you believe every word in the Bible is the inerrant Word of God or not really doesn’t matter because a couple of verses before that says, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34 The Complete Jewish Bible); a universal truth. If the heart is full of its own hurt from life and past experiences, the mouth is going to speak those words and hurt others. The consequences are a moot point, at least for the time being, because we live in the here and now and the words have caused another pain. Undeniable truth. And I do believe we are held accountable for careless words because they have the power to destroy relationships and people, and that is unacceptable; God being a part of the equation or not.

Careless words are any words that we speak that don’t build people up; they are spoken with the intent to hurt, to maim, to kill, figuratively speaking. The childhood “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names (or words) will never hurt me”  rhyme we have all said isn’t true. Words do hurt, and they can cut deep into the heart where they fester. Eventually those words will chip away at the heart, at the spirit of their victim.

Our families, those people that comfort us, pray for us, encourage us, know us full well and love us unconditionally, stand by us when the world is against us, should not be wielding the words that cause us hurt and pain, and yet we do; all of us is guilty at one time or another. We are human and subject to all of the beauty and ugliness that encompasses.

What do we do? We work together to restore peace, bring understanding, hear the root cause of the pain that has lead to the hurtful words being slung our way. Stepping back in order to see the whole picture instead of slinging our own hurtful words to compound the pain further, give everyone time and space to process, and we pray for each other. We all must bend, not just one or two. We need to speak from the heart, share our heart, naked and exposed without thrusting accusations and hurtful statements to justify our position. We are family and forever will be. To sacrifice that gift and those relationships at the altar of being right, or the altar of pride is not worth the price…..


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