All of us have memories of harsh words spoken by others that you never forget. They pierced like a sword and the pain is relived each time the memory pops up again. I am reminded of the Bible verse, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18. What comes to mind is a visitor to my home whose own house is immaculate. I had prepared for weeks for her visit, cleaning every crevice, similar to spring or fall cleaning. I cared very much what she thought of my housekeeping, perhaps more than I should have. The day she arrived my house was up to her standards, at least I thought it was. Anyway, she walks to the kitchen after being in my living room and her guest bedroom. She was like a housing inspector who knows exactly where to look for flaws. She found the one thing in the entire house I left unclean by mistake, the underside of the oven fan. I don’t know why I didn’t see that earlier. Perhaps it was subconsciously overlooked because it tends to get all greasy and disgusting. And sure enough, she found it. And her remark was, “This could cause a fire.” I don’t know if these were her exact words, but I’ll never forget it. I felt embarrassed and regretted not seeing it needed cleaning. I doubt she even realized how her words hurt me. This is just one example. Others are my Dad saying, “You’ll never amount to anything.” I don’t think he said it very often, but it stuck with me.
I guess what I’m trying to say is we all remember hurtful words spoken either intentionally or carelessly without regard to one’s feelings. In fact, we’ve most likely spoken hurtful words ourselves. I know I have. Usually we hurt our loved ones the most.
I think the best thing to do is to forgive them. Whenever that painful remark resurfaces, which will happen, immediately forgive them and ask God to forgive you for anything painful you’ve said to others. I can’t say this will erase the words from your memory bank, but it will probably ease the pain a bit. And God will heal you and restore your relationship with that person. It will free you of the grudge you’ve been holding onto, which is really harder on you than the person that hurt you. In God’s Word, Jesus said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
So I have forgiven my relative that visited, knowing she had OCD, and was just displaying her obsession and not trying to be hurtful. It doesn’t hurt as much as it did. My attitude toward her and my Dad has improved as a result. It’s also very comforting to know God has forgiven me after I confessed the hurtful words I’ve spoken in the past.