W O R D S

This is important. 

Let me start by admitting this – I searched the internet and beyond for a blog post or SOMETHING that could summarize my thoughts and feelings on this situation. I searched topics such as “Cyberbullying”, “How to React to Social Media Critisicm”, and even “When People are Mean on Facebook.” I came across nothing that hit home for me; the thoughts running through my mind a mile a minute, the way I’ve been feeling (for 6 years now), the anger I’ve had to work through. Nothing and nobody put this into words. So I figured I’d take a swing at it. *DISCLAIMER* I am not a writer and have never claimed that title. This is pure thoughts being typed out as they bubble over — grammar mistakes and all.

Here we are, in 2016, with the most incredible/horrible gift to mankind — Facebook. It’s a gift, I suppose, for many reasons. People like to keep up with people. We live and breathe off of it. I know that family and friends back home enjoy seeing where I am and what I’m doing these days seeing that I don’t get back to Mayfield much anymore. I appreciate that so much.

A little back story for my Nashville and beyond friends who won’t know what’s going on (because I don’t talk about it). My mother works in local city government. She is the mayor of my hometown. With that, comes huge responsibilities and decisions. Ever since she has held this position, I have watched (on numerous occasions) as people have slandered and staked my mother into the ground based on decisions she’s made in her position. There’s a current situation going on back home right now that has rendered the most incredibly hurtful comments, posts, and opinions. “But it’s part of the job” says everybody. Yes, I know that. But I, as her daughter, never signed up. And I never signed up for the cyber beatings I experienced in high school (from teachers and mentors of all people) when she ran for mayor; the name calling, the back-lashing, the rock-casting. Because what you say about the mayor is what you say about my mother. 

Now that we’re all on the same page, lets talk about the horrible side of Facebook. The side that has defined a season of life for me in many ways. The side that continues to blow me away to bits and pieces. It’s the evil, horrible, absolutely ridiculous side of Facebook (and all other sources of social media for that matter). Somewhere along the way, we as human beings decided that our opinions granted us the right to hatred, bullying, “I’m just saying”, name-calling, finger pointing, and conclusions based upon our own feelings.

I am 23 years old and DO NOT claim to know it all. On top of that, I’m a female millennial (for those of you who haven’t cast me aside yet based on all of that, thank you for hanging in). I realize that I don’t have decades of knowledge to pull from and I can’t really say, “Back when I was a teenager…” because that wasn’t too long ago. However, over the past 6 years, I have spent nights of weeping, praying, tossing, turning, and wondering all because people (some I have trusted and others I don’t even know) decided that their opinions were so incredibly regal that they deserved the honor to be placed on the World Wide Web for all to see, including me.

And you know what is the most heart-wrenching part of all of this? Grown-ups. GROWN-UPS. People with families and children. People I respect and look up to. People who post scripture one minute and slander the next. We have arrived at the conclusion where we believe our opinions grant us the right to say what we want to say about people we don’t know and things we don’t know. Because it’s our right, we can say what we want about who we want whenever we want without any regards or repercussions because it’s our right. To some extent, yes. Nobody can stop you from laying in your bed at night and typing things on your phone that you would never say in person. You are correct.

But let me tell you about the repercussions. I’ll start with me. Words are powerful. They can kill, destroy, and taunt those who’ve read them. They are bullets; deadly and out of nowhere. And cyber words of all things. They are out there. Forever. They can be screenshot and sent to people to be tucked away on their camera roll. Words carry us through specific seasons of life. Whether it’s the words of a song, the words of a friend, or the words that you speak over yourself to get out of bed each day. Words define us. They become who we are. Some of the nastiest words I’ve ever seen were plastered across a screen behind a profile picture or a cowardly screen name. You see, that’s not the only place they’ve been plastered. They’ve been plastered to my mind. I remember when people spoke words of wisdom to me. In the same, I remember the harsh words of criticism and accusations. I spent a good portion of high school running from words on a screen only to have somebody send them my way through text “to make sure I saw what they were saying about so and so”. Words are so brutal. And I remember every one of them. So here we are with the reprecussions. Yes, your opinions are free and you can say what you feel like, but let it be known…they do come with a price. That price is people; families who read the comments and hear those words directed towards a mother, father, sibling, etc. Not the “random person you don’t actually know” who you are targeting.

How about this; pretend every comment you’ve ever typed on a social media platform was not from you, but from an outsider directing it towards the person you hold dearest to your heart. Who is that for you? A child? A mother? A brother? A grandfather? Would you say those words to them? And not just on a screen, but directly to their face? If your answer is yes, then you may leave this page. I pray that the things I’ve read over the past 6 years directed towards the woman whose womb I was carried in may never grace the eyes of your children or somebody you hold dear.

Mercy will always triumph over judgement. I believe that wholeheartedly because I’ve received both earthly and heavenly mercy. I speak that out loud with every silly comment I read on any social media platform. There is mercy for us all and nobody here is perfect. But for the love of everything, your opinion never gave you the right to dehumanize, criticize, judge, or bury somebody in the ground with your words. I am not always kind with my words, but I know the heavy burden I carry of hurtful words spoken over my life. People say I have thick skin, but really I am just so incredibly calloused by things nobody should ever have to hear about their mother (*notice I say mother and not mayor*). If you’re reading this, you are somebody. Whether it’s a mother, father, daughter, son, or sibling, we are all SOMETHING. What would you do in a situation where people who truly don’t know somebody you love so dearly spoke so harshly over a place so impersonable as the Internet? Most would retaliate. I have typed and deleted more times than I can count. But I always delete because it’s not worth it. It never was. And your opinion is not worth the harm of another human being.

My generation gets a lot of flack for basically everything we do. And that’s fine. But here I am, 23 years old, calling on grown adults to guard not their tongues, but their fingers. I think that adults believe that because they’re “grown-up”, it grants them a right to disguise hatred with “but that’s just my opinion” or “I don’t know the whole story, but….” NO. A big fat no. It does not, it never did, and it never will. You have freedom of speech, but you don’t have the freedom to harm others with your carefully constructed social media posts. There will always be somebody who has to pay for your words and you may never even notice because you are too busy refreshing your feed and waiting for a like.

Words, people. They are so important. They are a direct correlation of what is overflowing from our hearts. And I write this for myself, too. I need to hear this. We have the power to destroy people with our words, but we also have the power to bring life to others. We can speak truth, grace, or sometimes maybe nothing at all. Scripture says that “Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24) Can we work on our words and what we type on a screen? Are they helpful? Are they true? Are they kind? Are they necessary? How different would this world be if we held our tongue a little more and extended grace to situations that don’t really involve us? My oh my. It would be a different world. Not the one I’m currently living in.

I am definitely not wise, but I have been wounded deeply by so many of your words lately.

I pray that we can all be challenged to think before we speak and type.

It’s so important.

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10 thoughts on “W O R D S

  1. Sue Watson says:

    Michelle I love you and your family. I wish I could say something profound to comfort you. Your mother is standing up for righteousness. There is a high price to pay for doing that. Few people understand why she is doing that. But her reward in heaven will be great. I pray that God will help her to stand and to continue to stand for what is right. Try not to become bitter over this and trust God to protect her and guide her steps.

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  2. onegroovyplanetLinda says:

    Michelle—such powerful words from a beautiful heart! The integrity of your soul always shines through and is evidenced by how God has blessed and continues to bless you. I’m sorry that you and your family have been hurt by the thoughtless (or perhaps thoughtfully intended [mean] words of others. I know all too well how deep those poisonous darts can reverberate and haunt until they embed into our very being. Words can define us…if we choose to hold onto them. But we are far greater than the sum total of all the words ever spoken to us.

    It’s so easy for people to pass judgment…without ever knowing truth or walking the same paths. No one can possibly know another person’s heart or circumstance from their perspective, [even if they were there]… and yet quickly choose godless gossip over Godly goodness and understanding.

    I just want you to know that you are a reflection of the love with which your parents and grandparents raised you and your brother. People’s words can be mean; even without talking…their actions speak volumes through deafening silence. It took me many, many years to learn to rise above the clamor of hateful, hurtful distracting words and find my identity through the Lord — His are the ONLY WORDS that truly matter. The enemy seeks to speak the loudest to block the whispers of God’s loving words. I treasure silence; it is the best place to hear truth.

    Thank you for sharing. Praying for you and your family.

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  3. Marilyn Stewart says:

    Angry words! O let them never From the tongue unbridled slip; May the heart’s best impulse ever Check them ere they soil the lip… I’m so sorry dear, I feel your pain and I know you are hurting deep in your heart. You are so mature for your age and should not have to be troubled by these things. Your mother is doing an awesome job, and many are praying for her and all will be ok. There are too many who are supporting her and know that she is doing the right things. Keep it classy and know that you’re mother is loved and so is her family.

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  4. Kim Nester Isbell says:

    Michelle……my dad was in politics for so many years and my skin never tougened……I have cried so many times…..people are so hurtful…..and I am now 51 years old but there are some folks I will never forget! Thank goodness social media was not such a staple back in dad’s early years of serving the community….your post was honest and respectful…..I get it….I really do….chin up…And smile that beautiful smile! ☺

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  5. Karen Angel says:

    Awesome! Very well written. I have been in a position myself of the lies, rumors, gossip, etc., and still if others give them time of day. Although, not to the degree of being in the position as your mother. Words do hurt and once spoken, not to be taken back. You can forgive after the hurt, in time, but usually never forgotten. I don’t know the situation but knowing her position as a Mayor and for you to write this, it must be difficult to hear and read negative comments, etc., now and in the past. As a family member, when one hurts, you all hurt. Thank you for sharing your heart.

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  6. Lynn pratt says:

    Words have always held a lot of power. Sorry that politics is so nasty. I’m a mayfield resident and am glad your mom is the mayor. You would think adults could use some common sense. Not always. Mayfield is lucky to have your mom as mayor

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  7. Laura says:

    God gives you strength; nobody could endure and have the civil approach that you have without God. Keep the faith and know you are correct in all you perceive.

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  8. Rhonda Haley says:

    I don’t know you personally or your mom either, for that matter, I do know that she is the mayor, but that is all. I have lived in Graves County most of my life, & I am in my 50’s. You are a very young woman, but you are obviously an intelligent & mature person. First, I am so sorry that you have been hurt by the cruelty & thoughtless words of others. Second, I will say that having lived here, I think your mother is doing a good job as mayor, it seems to me she has done more for the city than anyone I can remember. She can’t be responsible for people that don’t want Mayfield to be better. I am sure she isn’t perfect, & I am sure she has made bad decisions, but, who hasn’t. Most of all, I agree with everything you just said, fb, should be used for happiness & good things, but you are right when you say it is used for mean things with people that use words for mean & hateful things. Most are adults that think they have the right, & some even back up their hate with religion, which doesn’t make sense. They also get courage from using a keyboard so no one sees their face. People do need to keep more of their thoughts to themselves. You put it better than I have seen in a while, so good for you.

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