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The Haunting: What Is It About A Harsh Word That Clings To Us Far Beyond A Kind Word?

“The words of the tongue should have three gatekeepers: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” – Arabian Proverb

What is it about a hurtful word spoken to us that haunts us far beyond the impact of a kind, loving word? Why do we embrace the one ill-spoken word, forgetting the 99 words that bring life to our souls?

Recently, I was having a debate on Twitter (not recommended) with an agnostic about whether or not it requires faith to adhere to his particular belief system. My belief is that it still requires faith, whereas his argument was that faith is not an aspect of agnosticism. It’s a long conversation, so I won’t go into detail about it in this post.

We were having a good discussion until he said a few things to me in his tweets that came across a little too harsh. Here are some of the comments he made (paraphrasing):

“I only believe in facts and you should do the same.”

“You clearly don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

“I have 37 years of experience in this subject and you are ignorant of the tenets of agnosticism.”

He kept going with the jabs, as if that was necessary to prove to me that he was far more intelligent. What I should have taken into account was that he called himself a “militant agnostic”. No, I’m not kidding…That is probably a good sign that he’s not going to play fair.

Yet, his comments still crept beneath my skin…I hate being called ignorant. I hate it when someone throws out their resume to one-up me in a conversation. It angers me to no end when someone tells me what I know when that individual doesn’t even know me.


I’ve had so many affirmations from friends, readers, and others who have spoken life into my journey, yet this guy’s comments haunted me beyond those words of encouragement.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.” – Benjamin Franklin

My Dad has always had a phrase that I love: “Consider the source”.

We cling to the harsh words, because we are terrified that we don’t measure up. Kind words are nice, but there’s always that skepticism about whether they are sincere. A harsh words is rarely spoken when insincere. That person really does believe what they’re saying.

Yet, we must consider the source.

Who said it? What weight of influence do they carry in our life? Why would they bother to say it in the first place? How do they treat others? Do they make a positive difference in the world around them, or are they constantly tearing others apart with their words?

Harsh words are the ghost of our minds, telling us that we’re not worthy of love, respect, and a seat at the table with the “important” people.

The truth? You are human; they are human. We all have error in our thinking, our actions, and in our insecurities. Yet, even so, we are all just as valuable as the person who speaks destruction over our lives. Their words don’t have the right to define us.

Who is speaking encouragement and life into your story?

Who is speaking destruction over you and why are their words of such great value to you?

God doesn’t accidentally create any of us, saying, “Oops…That one wasn’t meant to exist.” You weren’t designed and created with careless hands. You are not a mistake.

Isn’t it time to stop being haunted by the words that others speak to destroy our hearts? Isn’t it time to step into the hope of the words that are meant to give life?

You aren’t what people say to you, no matter how painful.

It’s time to cast aside the voices of haunting.