Every time I scroll through Facebook and Instagram, I see picture after picture that look seamlessly perfect. When we post a picture on these social media platforms, we almost always post the best or funniest one. The one that will get us the most likes. We often filter our pictures to hide the flaws we want no one else to notice. We always present our best pictures to represent our best selves.
But often, when I READ the words on Facebook and Instagram, I think “We filter our pictures, why can’t we do the same with our words?”
“Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
I have yet to encounter a more false statement than this one.
Words Do Hurt
While I have had to learn to have thicker skin as a woman and a mom, there are still things we should not be saying to each other on or off social media. And you know what? Moms are often the worst. We say things to other moms without thinking. Why do we do this? Why do we say things we would never want said to us? We take the time to make our pictures look perfect. Why can’t we take the time to make sure our words are life-giving, not life-destroying?
I don’t have all of the answers, but a few reasons could be pride, fear, and comparison. We say things we don’t mean to make ourselves feel better. We want to know that we are getting our mothering right, even if it means looking down on someone else. Sometimes, we don’t know what to say. We try to make conversation, and it is simply a slip of the tongue.
We are not perfect. And we sometimes say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Unfortunately, the tendency is to let our opinions matter more than loving one another.
If you know me, I do not have a perfectly slim body. (And that’s okay!) After bearing two children, I have a little extra in the middle. I have been asked the dreaded question, “Oh when are you due?” a handful of times when I was not pregnant. I have mostly been able to shake it off as an absentminded comment most of the time. A stranger was trying to make conversation, and it took a dive off the deep end. But there was one instance when someone took it a step further. They not only mistakenly thought I was pregnant, but they insulted my body shape right after to try to cover themselves. I ran out of the room in tears, wishing that I was in a different body than my own.
I was mortified, embarrassed, and depressed for a few days after that. And I have prayed ever since that I never make someone else feel that way.
And Guess What?
I have said things that I regret. I have said things that were hurtful. In those moments, I tell myself, “I really need to learn how to filter my words.” Both written and unwritten words. Both on social media and face-to-face. I want my words to build relationships with other women, not tear them down and shame them. Don’t you? How many friendships could be started or saved if we took a few seconds to think about what we are going to say before we actually say it?
Starting today, I want to become a woman who uses her words to make the world a more beautiful place. I want my children to see me loving others with my words. I want them to start becoming aware of how their words can affect others for better or for worse. Right now, that is more important to me than figuring out how to make my pictures look the best on Instagram.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of beautiful pictures. You should see the walls in my house. But if our relationships are suffering because we filter our social media pictures more than we filter our words, we need to take a step back. We need to rearrange our priorities. Our pictures will make an impression for a day or two at most, but our words can make an impression for a lifetime.