Silently, we pulled into the parking lot of a little park near our house.

We’re not here to play, I told her. I walked over to a picnic table and patted the bench next to me. She sat down slowly, nervously if you must know, and I waited for her eyes to meet mine.

Breathing deeply, I told her calmly why her behavior earlier in the day was completely unacceptable and devastatingly hurtful. I talked to her at her level, with words softer than I felt in my heart, and explained why the ugliness that she’d spewed in a fit of rage that morning didn’t just make me mad; it broke my heart.

“Words matter, baby,” I told her. “The things you say are important – and they can hurt people or help people. You can make people feel really good . . . or really bad.”

I told her that the Bible calls the tongue our strongest muscle, because it wields such power. (Fine. I didn’t say “wields” as I talked to my five-year-old. But you know what I mean – and so did she.)

As I hugged her and patted her back, both of us in tears and ready for a fresh start, I realized that once again, I was learning a lesson just as big as the one I was teaching.

Her words matter – and so do mine.

I thought about that again later in the week. I sent an email to my friend and co-worker about the upcoming Women of Faith conference and said, “My friend is speaking at the conference.” She replied and asked which one of the speakers I am friends with.

As soon as I read her question, I felt my stomach flip. I hadn’t lied, but I had used the language of exaggeration so common in blogs, social networks and – if I’m honest – my everyday conversations.

“If that happens, I will just die. Just. Die!”
“And then about a million people showed up.”
“You watch Downton Abbey, too? We are total TV BFFs!”
“You read my blog? I read your blog! We are blog BFFs!”
“Oh my gosh, I love you so much!”

I’m guilty of more than one of those statements, about a million times over. I am fluent in hyperbole, I go from zero to bajillions in about 2.4 seconds, and I’ve named dozens of people (some of whom I’ve never even met) my BFF.

Most the time talking like that is no big deal. But when I exaggerate a relationship – whether intentionally or not – I’m cheapening the close friendships I truly have. In addition I’m saying that the actual relationship I have with a person isn’t enough – and that’s just not right.

I’m blessed with lots of friends (not a bajillion, though it seems like it come holiday card time). Some of them I’ve known for years, while others I’ve met recently and am still getting to know. Some of them live blocks away, while some of them live in other countries. Some of them I’ve met once (or not at all), while others are people I see every single week. All of them are special, and each of them (and the relationship I have with them) is unique.

Even if I’m being extremely cautious and precise with my words, I have several friends I’d call best.
And, really, it’s more fun to say “BFF,” as if we’ve all exchanged broken-hearted necklaces and passed notes in math class. But I can’t deny that my conscience was pricked last fall when I realized that my own words were being tossed about as carelessly as my disobedient daughter’s.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop exaggerating completely. I mean, come on. Have you met me? But when it comes to matters of relationships and friendships and people and the heart, I want to be more careful.

Are you frugal and precise with your words? Or do you tend to exaggerate {like I do}? Have you ever described someone as a closer friend than she really was?

{Photo by Suzie T}

What should you watch next?


Every month, we are bombarded with new TV series and movies—and it can be overwhelming to figure out what to watch! (I know, I know, what a problem to have!) I'm here to help. My monthly Watch Guides list out all the returning series, new series, and new movies, along with premiere dates and where to watch them. Plus, I tell you my personal picks for the month to help you narrow it all down.

Drop your name and email here, and I'll send you this month's Watch Guide right away!

(Signing up gives me permission to email you. But I will never, ever send you spam or junk. Who has time for that?!)

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This