Words Have the Power to Heal or to Break

Sticks and Stones Can Break Your Bones (but So Can Words)

I may have broken some bones today. Not mine, and not real bones. But I used ungracious words in a phone conversation.

I don’t know about you, but when frustrating situations simmer and stew and don’t get resolved in a reasonable amount of time, I usually end up on the phone trying to have a civil conversation that heads south in a hurry. Today’s volley of unkindness started months ago when the boarding school where I work tried to set up postal service at our homes (as opposed to us having to rent mailboxes in town or have the school secretary sort our mail).


It seems simple enough, so we cancelled our PO box, installed a mailbox in front of our house, put our new address on it and waited for the change of address request to work its magic. For two weeks, we got mail.

Then the Post Office and the county got into a territorial fight over the house numbers and the addresses. One thing led to another. Our mail has arrived intermittently (depending on who currently holds the upper hand in the argument) since June. Two times now, we have not received important mail that we knew should arrive.

And so I called the postmaster. I thought I could keep calm, cool and collected, but when the postmaster started placing blame on other people and saying that they “Always delivered the mail,” I got a little testy. And then I got emotional. I may have had angry tears and a snot-filled nose cloud my voice (and my reason).

I may have started using big words, like ‘unconscionable’ and ‘malfeasance.’ I may have put the phone down before our conversation had actually ended.

Losing My Cool

And then I cried for ten minutes because I knew I had handled the situation badly. I have this thing about my mail and privacy. It stems from control issues related to my husband’s cancer journey when my sister-in-law opened the letters I sent him when he had to stay with them between hospitalizations.

My word for the year, constrain, will send me to the post office tomorrow to have a gracious conversation with the postmaster. I owe an apology for my mean attitude and frustrated tone. Above all else, I want my words to heal—we have enough angry words breaking bones all over our nation right now.

I’ll do my part, one gracious word at a time, to promote healing. What about you?

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Awe… Anita. I totally relate to your postal dilemma. I’ll say a prayer for you. I’m visiting from the FMF community. You can find my post here:

  • bluecottonmemory

    An apology for losing your temper is always a soothing balm. I’m so sorry you are having to go through this. It’s the little foxes that tear at the vines! Praying that both you and the P.O. have peace in the forgiveness!

    • Yep, that’s what I need, peace with the PO ;). Today I have people praying for me, so that will make it so much easier for God to constrain me (and my big mouth) when I politely take them the evidence of my problem (someone who had their mail returned to them due to the PO error sent us a photo of the letter and yellow sticker last night).

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Anita, I think your words were totally justified. Interfering with the mail, as these people were doing, is a federal offense. A ‘territorial dispute’ is meaningless. They’re committing a crime. Seriously.

    There’s loss of temper, and then there is righteous chastisement. We’re human; emotions get in the way. But to me, the overall picture is clear, and you are in the right.

    #1 at FMF this week


    • I can be right, but be so wrong in my delivery! Pray that God constrains me and that I only say what HE wants me to say!

  • Susan

    Words…I knew someone would go here. Bravo, YOU!

  • Karrilee Aggett

    Ah yes… the power of our words –it’s a big deal and one that I think most if not all of us tend to forget! Praying for you for grace to pour out as you go today, but also praying for the situation at large, for resolution and a regular delivery of your mail! Frustrating – but not surprised that you are taking the high road… love you, friend!

  • Anna Smit

    May God bless you with His peace, when you walk into that office tomorrow and may your contrite heart move this man’s heart to respond in compassion in your situation. Good on you for choosing the harder path to the Glory of God. You’re walking in the Light of His beautiful and freeing truth and are an encouragement to me in doing so. Hugs.

  • Kristina Notestine

    Oh man! Those conversations are always the hardest to go back to and make right. I will confess in my humanness that I would think, ” I wont hear or see them again. Why apologize?” But through the Holy Spirit and the convicting He does, I know I should. I hope it goes well when you talk to them. your neighbor at FMF

  • Tara Ulrich

    On Anita. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. Words can hurt, but yes words can indeed heal too. I almost had one of these encounters this morning on the phone, but I took a breathe and cooled off. I’m in the 59 spot this week.

  • Anita, I have definitely been there more times than I want to admit. It’s so hard to keep calm when you have had to put up with stuff like that. I want my words to be helpful, not harmful, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Blessings to you!

  • LINDA ANN Nickerson

    Your postal mishaps sound frustrating!
    Love the pretty Scripture graphic.
    Visiting from Five-Minute Friday.
    Linda Ann at Nickers and Ink <

  • Well said. Thanks for being so vulnerable and open. It encourages me to see. Prayers for a healthy conversation and a resolution.