When making broad public statements infused with the words always and never we back ourselves into a corner. By definition those words express finality without exception. ALWAYS is defined as every time; on every occasion; without exception, all the time, continuously, uninterruptedly, forever, in any event; at any time. NEVER: not ever; at no time; not in any degree; not under any condition.
Think about THAT.
In the heat of the moment we all can make emotional, compelling statements to emphasize the seriousness of our words. Not only do we want to make sure we are heard, we also want you to know that our conviction is resolute. We must be careful.
So when we decide to walk back or apologize for said statements whether due to pressured backlash or genuine reflection, the stain of the always and never remains. Our words matter. We can take them back but their aura remains in the universe.
When the teenager protests with the “you never let me…”, we secretly smile while giving instruction on the importance of not making blanket statements. As parents not only do recognize how ridiculous the statement was, we also remember using those exact words when pleading our case for something to our own parents. Never is simply not the appropriate word. It’s impact doesn’t acknowledge that this case is situational. It’s just not true.
When as an adult we make the statements including always and never we no longer have the benefit of teenage naivety. We should’ve learned better as we aged. In these situations we must know that when we make always and never statements we are asking others to believe us without reservation. No teenage naivety. Fully formed adult conviction. We are showing ourselves. Whether good or bad.
I am a firm believer in forgiveness. God knows I have needed it and continue to need it. However when I manage to forgive honest emotional words (often times made by “friends”) that have pierced my heart, I begin to watch them more closely. I make sure I am really listening to them. The person that I thought I knew has just revealed some portion of their heart. The stranger I excuse because well, they’re a stranger. The “friend” requires more scrutiny. My vulnerability becomes censored. My heart is at risk. You are showing me how you really feel. Therefore sadly, the trust is damaged, even as I am thankful for the revelation. I can’t forget… at least not right now and maybe never. I’ve retreated to my corner, to protect my heart.
Our words ALWAYS matter and that will NEVER change.