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When Words Hurt (Worse than Sticks n’ Stones)

Sometimes I’m confused, and other times I’m upset and frustrated, but my most common feeling lately is sadness.


Never in my lifetime have I experienced a global pandemic, a worldwide recession with unemployment equal to the Great Depression, and civil unrest simultaneously. (Oh, and just for fun, let’s throw in a presidential election too.)


Far more than ever, I’m taking calls from people who are deeply depressed, and some are suicidal. (I literally just got off the phone with a young person who wants to die.)


More than I’ve ever seen before, the stress of our times is affecting marriages, families, and stretching a lot of relationships to the breaking point.


Regardless of where a person lands on any particular issue—conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between—the tension in our culture is deeper and broader than ever before.



People are fatigued, frustrated, and fed up. 


We all know what social distancing is, but what might be considered the plague of social media is distancing friends and family members in horrible ways.


We all know that dissension is damaging to relationships, but DEVICE-iveness (that smartphone or tablet in your hand) is often a weapon that is wounding souls.


Why is it so easy to be mean and flippant with a comment on Facebook or Twitter?


Why are we so quick to lash out at someone with angry emojis and way too many exclamation points?


Why are we so mad and so quick to emotionally vomit on a person we might not even know?


I’m never surprised when I hear or see someone in politics get mean and nasty. I’m not shocked when one party member calls someone in another party a foul and obscene swearword.


I’m not stunned when an atheist calls a Christian an idiot.


I’m not discouraged by the occasional sibling squabble. (I’ve been wrestling with my brothers for decades.)



However, it breaks my heart when someone who calls themselves a Christ-follower curses or speaks evil of another Christian. 


That’s why my most prevalent emotion nowadays is sadness because this ought not to be so.


We don’t have to agree.


We don’t have to see things the same way.


We don’t even have to like each other.


We are, in fact, free to have differences of opinion.



But we must be kind. 


By the way, that’s what it looks like when we love one another, serve one another, and honor (i.e., esteem, value) one another. Those “one another” commandments define kindness at its core, and they are commandments—not suggestions.


I believe it’s time to go back to a lesson most of us were taught as children: If you can’t say anything kind, don’t say anything at all. 


Remember the warning of James:


The tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6 (ESV)


Seriously, oh be careful little tongue what you say . . . .


Life is messy. Relationships are challenging. And it’s okay when “iron sharpens iron,” but it’s not alright to hammer your brother or sister.


It’s okay to look another Christ-follower in the eye and say, “I think you’re wrong on this one, and I strongly disagree.”


But it’s never acceptable to be harsh, ugly, vile, mean, or nasty with anyone, let alone someone you’re going to be with forever.




To be clear: Unity is not sameness, but it is kindness.




22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them,

that they may be one even as we are one,

23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one,

so that the world may know that you sent me

and loved them even as you loved me.

John 17:22-23 (ESV)

Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Laura Morford

    This has been such a hard time. And people tend to get a little snippy. I can handle that.
    But I too am saddened by the depth of hatred between people who dont have the same views!! I like the idea of a kindness pandemic!!!

    1. KurtBubna

      Totally agree, Laura! Hang in there…this too shall pass.

  2. Bruce Bowen

    You have been doing a really good job, these past several weeks, of nailing what it means to be a true Christian not just associate with Christians. Jesus opened His arms of love to everyone. But, at the same time, said some very tough things about what it means to follow Him. If only love wasn’t so difficult.

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you, Bruce. I always value your input.

  3. Sharon Hughson

    Amen and amen.
    I have a post about “Kind Makes Right” coming to my blog in a couple weeks. I will be linking back to this amazing post there.
    Fight the good fight. Keep being kind. And that cartoon totally cracked me up 🙂

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you, Sharon. The comic made me laugh too!

  4. Tina P. Miller-Ayres

    Thanks that really hit home this morning for me and my brother Rick. It is as if you knew our conversation this morning.

    1. KurtBubna

      Gald it blessed you, Tina.

  5. Doug Fisher

    Excellent!! Well Said!! Thank you for this insightful passage. God Bless

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you! Always appreciate your kinds words!

  6. kelly stoutenborough

    This is so correct in writing, in what is going on EVERYWHERE, sadly very correct!
    It’s extremely hard for myself to go out into public, around people, in my experience the last couple of months no one is nice, all are constantly upset, hurried, in bad mood..& just not nice. It’s EXTREMELY hard to not react in kind, but to maybe give a smile instead.. or say thank you or please go ahead…or anything pleasantry. THAT habit is VERY hard to continue, especially with a mask on… but I know I SHOULD try & spread cheer… some smiles, or just good cheer Because you never know what the person is facing in their lives..I TRY to remember that during a not so good exchange….it’s a work in progress

    1. KurtBubna

      It does truly sadden me to see the UNkindness everywhere. Perhaps we can change things one kind act at a time. Thank you, Kelly.

  7. Kay Anderson

    Thank you, Kurt, for another insightful blog. On the other hand, I tend to get real quiet when I find myself in major disagreement with a friend. It doesn’t get nasty–which is good, but sometimes I kick myself afterwards and hold on way too long to the feelings generated. I avoid them and consider bailing on the friendship. Not pretty but there it is. Guess we are all in a growth pattern needing constant transformation! Thankfully God is constantly available for consultation (with no fee!) Humor helps! Appreciate your truth telling! Will keep this one in mind.

    1. KurtBubna

      Growing with you, Kay! You are loved!

  8. Rebecca Androes

    Yes, we definitely need a kindness pandemic right now. This is what I tell my family and students. My favorite phrase in my classroom is “I know you don’t like Johnny. You don’t have to be friends, but you do need to be friendly. You need to be kind.”

    1. KurtBubna

      I like that, “a kindness pandemic” and it truly is needed. Thanks for adding to the conversation, Becky.

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