About the Author

Robin is the author of For All Who Wander, her relatable memoir about wrestling with doubt that reads much like a conversation with a friend. She's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea, married to her college sweetheart, and has three children. An empty nester with a full life, she's determined to...

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  1. Words… my strong point and my weak point. I am great at teaching and encouraging, and listening to what isn’t said in others’ words, but I also use my words like a sword on the people I love the most. Hacking at them in my anger and frustration, shredding their self-confidence and security.
    The horrible thing is that I’ve always known the power of words, having been often wounded by them as I was growing up, and promising myself that I would never be like that to my own children. And now I have become that very thing… the wounded has become the wounder.
    So I pray. Daily, sometimes hourly, for the grace I need to be the mother and wife my family need me to be, for the Holy Spirit to guard my mouth and sift my words… and then I ask for forgiveness from my Saviour and my family when I fail.
    And slowly, paaaainfully slowly (slow like a glacier, which is even slower than a snail), I am growing more like Him and less like me…

    • Wow, are reading my mind????How can this be that you and I share something so similar???Thank you for sharing this….And we should pray for each other as well….

    • Your comment is encouraging (both of yours, actually 🙂 ), because you’ve illustrated who you were and who you’re becoming. Transformation has no time limit; thank the Lord, it’s not “now or never.” For you, me and so many others! I wonder if those who love words (writers/readers) naturally use them as a weapon. Whether repeating the history of our own lives of simply using what we know best, I wonder.

      Regardless, you’re moving in the right direction, regardless of the pace :). Thank you for sharing your heart so honestly. I’ll pray for BOTH of you.

      • It makes sense that those who love words, know best how to make them hurt. As well as struggling with my own tongue, I’m also struggling to teach my daughter (who is SO like me!) how to be respectful and kind with her words, instead of falling into the habits of disrespect and sarcasm… like I did at her age. That whole thing of trying to teach what you haven’t quite learned yourself yet is an interesting balance – how to teach the behaviour you know should be there, without also teaching ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Aaaaarghhhh!! Lol!

    • I know this story all too well…it is reflective of my own life. And you hit the nail on the head in the latter portion of your sharing here…it is a slow process. Life is such. However, I have found that I need to constantly remind myself that it’s not the destination of this life that counts…that is already secured for me…but it is the journey in which I will discover the beauty of Christ, and Him in my life. This life isn’t a sprint…it is a marathon…and through every cramp, ache and our crystal of agony…we lose a little bit more of ourselves when we recognize ourselves in our moments and hand them fully over to God. We just need to extend as much grace to ourselves as He has extended toward us…and since we know where we have been ourselves, it seems like it takes a lifetime learning how to do this. But if that is how long it takes…praise God, still, that we can learn it! Be graceful to yourself even through the introspective moments dear sister in Christ…it is worth it.

  2. Robin!
    Words, the lack of, and the spoken ones destroyed me. My spirit was crushed as a young girl and so I grew up not really believing or trusting someone when they tried to speak words of life to me. Words I needed to hear all along but felt they came a little to late to do any good. I’m sure my mother told me she loved me but I can’t remember. I cannot remember me telling her that I loved her. This may sound like I am a monster but I don’t love her. Not as a mother. I love that God gave her life because without it I would not be here to have the joy of having my own children. But I do not love her as my mother. But God gave me others to fill in those gaps. God is so good to me that he worked so hard in me to get me to reach out for help 4 years ago to deal with issues. This is when he really started putting people in my life to speak those words of affirmation, encouragement, support, TRUTH and LOVE. Godly women who have shown me his love first hand. Women who tell me they love me every time they see me. It has only been in the last 3-4 months that I have been able to verbalize to one of them ‘I love you too’ . These are the 4 scariest words ever. But I’m learning to love that feeling inside when I say them instead of hiding from it. Words can hurt deeply, leaving huge scars that can never be repaired but they can also soothe the deepest hurt with the gentlest touch.

    lisa

    • Oh….Lisa…that breaks my heart for you. You have come so far and I’m so thankful for that for you, that you can sense love and share it so deeply. Yes, to God be the glory for this great work in your life!

      But I’m praying something BIG for you…something you can’t even imagine–I’m praying 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 over you:
      “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

      I’m praying that your wounds will one day be healed completely, and that even in your most horrible of pain, you’ll see how God redeemed the destruction of your mother in a way that drew you into closer relationship with Him.

      Or something like that; I don’t want to be so presumptuous that I try to be the boss of God, but I can’t help but believe He can heal you all…the….way.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. For allowing me to be your sister in this. xo

  3. I was speaking with my foster daughter about this very thing last night. Someone said jokefully: “Sticks and stones may break my bones…” and she spoke up and adamantly said “That’s a lie.” She knows the power of haunting words.

    Words hurt more than sticks and stones- sticks and stones may hurt for an hour or 2 but harsh words have the power to last a lifetime.

    I am sharing this with her. I am so glad I found it. Thank you!

    • Melissa,

      I hope it’s encouraging, affirming to her. Don’t we WANT to believe the “sticks & stones lie” because we DON’T want to believe the truth of word devastation? Does that make sense?

      Thank you for your kind words. They are blessing :).

  4. The words that were often spoken into my life when I was a child, teenager, and young adult were very mixed. I walked in the midst of confusion. For often times the words spoken that were nice, often were refuted by actions that were counter to them; in turn dismantling everything the words had initially spoken.

    Living this kind of life creates a confusion unlike any other conscerning discovering who you are. You aren’t certain what to believe about yourself. I believe the same is true too when the words aren’t even spoken at all.

    Not saying the words we need to hear about ourselves…truthful ones that edify what God says about us…leaves us wondering, “are we worth it?” Then saying words that uplift, yet have actions that break them down, leave us wondering the same thing.

    I lived both aspects of this life…and over the past year, God has brought me some beautiful people into my life to remind me (not only with words, but actions, too) that I am smart. I am important. And that I am kind. That I have something worthwhile to give to this world…and I am worthwhile enough to give it. It isn’t easy to embrace those kind of words…backed up with supporting action…but I am learning how to do it more and more. It is a humility unlike any other I have ever experienced…for what I grew up with taught me a twisted sense of false humility (pride). But as I grow deeper in Christ, accepting His words about what He says about me…and having people in my life to back them up…I am learning to humble myself to embrace them as truth (even when I feel I am less than deserving of them).

    • Marni,

      Again and again I’m hearing it–the life-lingering affect of WORDS! But how beautiful that God can use those painful parts of our pasts to bring Himself honor and praise as He does a healing work in our lives?

      You’ve reminded me that we cannot rely on our FEELINGS when it comes to God’s truth; we’ve got to rely on what He has SAID. He knew His people would need it written down so we’d remember, that we’d know. Which makes me grateful.

      Grace to you, friend… xo.

      • Robin,

        I like that…”the life-lingering affect of words.” So, so true. Somehow though, this world thinks it can get us to forget words by the whole “sticks and stones” diddy. The crazy thing it, we can easily dupe ourselves into believing these words…embracing them as truth…but in turn, we ignore the absolute truth that God speaks of us. We trade a few words that means nothing to us, or for us, and make them omnipotent in our lives. It is a sneaky, crazy, wild and ugly deceptive trap that ensnares His children…keeping them from the promised land He promised us all!

        It too makes me grateful, like you, that He did inspire the writers of the scriptures to tell us the truth…so they are always there to counter the twisted ugliness of that this world s enjoys trying to dupe us into…luring us away from His heart for us. We can’t rely on feelings alone…most times we just have to make a decision to decide, “I am believing [trusting] God, no matter what.” It hurts a lot sometimes…but as your response here eludes too…it is so worth it.

        Simply…thank you for posting about this today. It is something I have been really needing to address more and more lately…and this post opened my eyes to that. It’s about time to explore this area in my life in such a way that I find more joy in exploring it now…rather than regret from the past of not exploring this sooner.

        I share the same grace back to you as well. Bless you.

        • And with that, dear one, you blessed me double.

          {I cheered when I read “sneaky, crazy, wild and ugly deceptive trap that ensnares His children” b/c you characterized it perfectly! Two points for YOU!}

  5. So true! Sometimes I have to be intentional in reminding myself that spoken words can be so important… or detrimental. I have become better about the way speak to others but sometimes, especially when my patience is tested, I have to reach deep not to say something I will regret. This post is a great reminder of the power of the spoken word.

    • Maria,

      It amazes me how honest (in)readers are; thank you for acknowledge that you know your own tongue can be an instrument of pain. Don’t you think knowing that, admitting that, is the first step to remedying it? I might have written this as a reminder to myself the most… :).

  6. Robin, I really needed the reminder this morning…tough times right now here. I am reminded by reading this that words are powerful. They truly have the power to lift or break a person.
    Marni..Thanks for the reminder!

    Blessings to all of you!

    • Kerry,

      When we write our posts for incourage, theoretically a month in advance, I always wonder will the post be relevant or helpful to *anyone* when it’s published; thank you for letting me know it mattered to you, at just the right time. {hugs}

  7. When my husband was killed in an industrial accident 30 years ago, the Lord brought a wonderful friend to walk with me through the pain. We became very close friends…soul mates I guess you could say. When I remarried, our husbands became best friends as well as all 9 of our kids. We lived life together through the years..both the good and the heartbreaking times. About 8 years ago, I received a letter from her stating in detail all the times I had not not met her expectations. The list was amazingly long and broke my heart as well as my husband’s. I apologized and asked her forgiveness. I prayed and chose to forgive her as well. But, the wound was deep.
    Her words destroyed our friendship. I have forgiven her but no longer trust her with my heart. We continue with cards at birthdays and Christmas…..
    My heart still hurts for the dear friend that I lost because of words. My thoughts to all those reading this is to keep short accounts. If someone disappoints you, forgive them. Don’t keep a list of wrongs. It will destroy your releationship. Go to the Lord and ask Him to bring healing. In this lifetime, we don’t often get a special friend. Work to keep that friendship as you would a marriage. Speak words of love and encouragement, not words that destroy. When we are cut by words, a scar will form and healing will come in time, but the memory remains.

    • Susan, Oh. My. What a sad tale; but what wise council you offer.

      Ya know, sometimes I think Christians believe (falsely) that they should always be able to “forgive and forget”; the truth is, most of the time we CAN’T forget something that branded our hearts! I DO believe you can forgive and still remember.

      But I’m thankful God forgets.

      Thank you for challenging all of us to keep our relationships current. And to understand that once words are out of the toothpaste tube, it’s impossible to squish ’em all back in.

  8. Robin, I am sharing your post on my fb because it has the power to free those held in bondage from hurtful words…because it remind us we have that same power to encouraged our discouraged with our tongue.

    The desire of my heart is to be a courageous wise hearted woman and just the recently God put it on my heart to add the word “kind” to my desire. Being a kind courageous wise hearted women brings me even deeper into an awareness of just what you wrote about. I just don’t want to speak truth but speak it dripping with kindness. By nature I am that outspoken, confronting woman who will speak truth in a heart beat, but if its my heartbeat instead of the Lord I will wound instead of bringing kind encouraging words. Thank you dear sister….keep those kind courageous wise hearted words flowing.

    • Thank you for being an encouragement back to me! Isn’t “kind” one of the BEST four-letter words? There’s wisdom and maturity in you adopting that as you seek to be courageous and wise to others…I’m praying that over you as I type :).

  9. Such an important topic, Robin. Thank you for this beautiful and crucial exhortation. Also, I just have to tell you this, because it’s so perfect. As I was reading your post, I heard my husband come in from working outside, and his footsteps stopped outside my office door. I turned and asked if he needed anything, and he simply said, “I just wanted to tell you I’m thankful to God for you.” I laughed from sheer, unexpected delight, and I said, “What made you think of that?” He smiled and shrugged. “I was just thinking about you and wanted to tell you.”

    Wow. Such a small, yet such a giant moment. I feel like I’ve been wrapped in the warmth of a thousand embraces, and how difficult is that to do? To merely express gratitude for the ones you love?

    So, today I’ve received two priceless gifts already. His words and yours.

    I’m thankful to God for you, Robin.

    Love, Jeanne

    • Oh…Jeanne…THANK YOU for sharing that sweet, tender exchange between you and your husband. That is a priceless moment and a simple manifestation of the power to hearten with a few words. His sweetness to you and your grateful response extended warm embrace to ME (and I’m sure to anyone who reads through comments).

      I’m thankful to God for you, too, Jeanne. 🙂

  10. My husband left the sweetest, most affirming letter for me to read in the morning after he left on a five-day hunting trip. It blessed my heart. I think of all the times I have said harsh words to him in anger, and it’s like a dagger in my stomach. How can I speak so harshly to God’s precious child? I am thankful He’s not finished with me yet!!

    • Hey friend 🙂 ~

      Reminds me of James 3:8-9 ~ “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.”

      Which reminds me of ME :/….

      Thankfully, He’s not finished with ANY of us! (Your husband sounds like a friend of Jeanne’s, commenter right before you :).)

  11. Oh my gosh, I so needed this post this morning. I’ve had plenty of hurtful words in my life, but for the most part, it was the lack of affirming words — from parents, peers, friends that have hurt me the most. It’s been so very hard for me to accept how very much God loves me. I just cannot seem to wrap my brain around that kind of love. Thank you for this beautiful post.

    • Barbie,

      Thank YOU for not withholding your thoughts/response to my post! It was spirit-buoying this morning to read :).

      I know what you mean, too, about how POWERFUL withheld words are! I can instantly think of a few situations that hurt me….

  12. This came at such a perfect time. Thank you for this! I just had to end an emotionally abusive friendship that was based on all the negative aspects of the tongue. I know first hand how harmful (and pain inflicting) the tongue can really be. Again, thanks for this encouragement.

    • Christina,

      A painful but probably wise choice. I had this friend, who for YEARS would bruise me with her words; I would retreat until things got better. It didn’t seem to serve any purpose to call her on it. Or maybe I was just too scared.

      Eventually I moved away and it’s amazing; now, when our paths cross, it’s all good. I don’t know if she changed or if distance improved our relationship. But back “then” it might have been best to stay away in general.

      Praying for one-day restoration for y’all.

  13. It is just amazing to know how much encouraging words can change your perspective. I consider words like that special little gifts, each of them… helping me continue on! Thanks for this great reminder Robin. I love to see how scripture spells this out for us so beautifully and powerfully!

  14. Robin, I have been studying my SS lesson for tomorrow and took a break to check the blogs. The young women in my class ( and me!!!) need to be reminded of the power of the words we say and do not say!
    thanks for reminding me!!

  15. When I watched this film, and especially this scene, I got very choked up and had to work hard to choke back the tears. I never got any such life-giving words when I was young. I was often the target of bullies and was labeled, ‘weird.’

    Being I never got encouraging words growing up, I have worked hard at building up my children with words ever since they were little. I wanted to give them what my own soul ached for. A parent’s love, recognition, acceptance, affection, etc. I give my kids all this stuff. My heart aches at the thought of my kids growing up feeling and thinking they were unloved – it would kill me because I know what its like to not be loved by one’s own mother. My own mother was hateful and incredibly and repeatedly emotionally and verbally abusive.

    In my own healing journey, I came across a quote that is bound up in my heart, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will break my heart.” And they do you know – break our hearts … they can also break spirits and wills to live and be who we authentically are.

    Through my healing – and God adopting me at the age of 26, I have come to know what real love is. It took me a long time for me to learn that who I am is who God says I am – not who an abusive mother told me I was (which was all lies.) In Him, who I am is secure, complete, whole. I owe Him everything.

    ~ Risé

    • Risé ~

      {{hugs}} I am SO thankful for the Lord’s intervention in your life, to speak truth into your broken heart, to change the course of history FOREVER for you and your family. How intuitively wise of you to extend the opposite of what you were taught to your own children. God has redeemed your childhood pain into something beautiful for your family. A great price, no doubt, but beautiful.

  16. Blessing! What a lot of work you did to gather all that meat together about our words. I am printing this and going to use it as a devotional. Dwelling on each verse for a while and memorizing it and teaching it to my children and their friends at our neighborhood pizza/movie nights. What a great gift you have given. And {bonus} now I want to read the book The Help and see the movie!

    My words have hurt others, and I was hurt by words growing up and even recently in unexpected stabs coming from a close friend. But, His Word — and more importantly, His life-giving Spirit — have been healing me so that more often my words are blessings to others — sincere words spoken in love.

    Only He can give that kind of redemption.

    • Patty,

      Well, hon, you have blessed me comin’ and goin’…THANK YOU! xo

      I’m thankful the Lord impressed upon me which verses to include; there are many more but these are the ones I sifted through, the ones that ministered first to me, I suppose.

      One of the things I’m most grateful for is God’s redemptive gifts. It brings beauty in the broken, doesn’t it?

  17. i have stumbled across this site because my Lord showed ot to me. Nothing happens that He does not use. Words, I HATE words. My husband has called me so many horrible ones. The pain is very very deep. I have forgiven him so many times, but I am
    now so afraid to be around him, waiting for the next word to come. When I disappoint him he stops speaking to me. he hasn’t spoken since July 26th, after he called me more names. except to call and tell me to check the sump pump twice for flooding when we had so much rain, then he hung up. If I did not have several women & my pastor at church telling me that what he has said is untrue I would have long ago given up. i know God has a plan for me, but I am starting to feel as if I am unraveling. I am lonely, and it hurts. I don’t even know why I’m writing this, nothing helps, But thanks for listening, My best friend died yrs ago of cancer & I have some true friends, but none that can really understand. They all have satisfying christian marriages, I don’t mean perfect, but both parties love each other & affirm each other. oh well, I’m done crying for now, & I have too many things to do, as I often just don’t care enough about stuff. Thanks again for listening. God is good, all the time. I just don’t get where I can possibly fit in that.

    • Christina, I’m so sorry your husband is so hurtful to you. I’m not going to say that I know how you feel, but I hear your pain, and I will pray for you.
      God IS always good, but that doesn’t mean that our circumstances are always enjoyable or easy. If you let Him, He will guide you through this valley in your life and turn even this hard thing into something beautiful. Keep your heart open to Him, tell Him about your pain and cry out for help – He loves honesty! There’s a lot of ‘Why, Lord?’ and ‘How long, Lord?’ and ‘God, I’m really hurting here, hurry up and rescue me already!’ in the Psalms. If that kind of prayer is good enough to get into the Bible, then I’m pretty sure it’s ok for us to pray too!

      • handsfull, thank you for stepping in and offering this beautiful word of encouragement before I read Christina’s comment.

        Christina, oh, how I ache for you.

        Thank you for sharing your wounds, your broken heart. I KNOW anyone who reads your comment will intercede for you! As a wife, woman and child of God, I hurt with you.

        handsfull had wisdom in her reply; our natural tendency is to want to rescue those who are hurting, but I believe God is accomplishing a work in and through you even in these harsh circumstances. I’m praying for your husband, too…

        One of my most-often prayers is “Lord, if my circumstances are what they are, if they aren’t going to change…please change my heart and help me to adapt to my circumstances…help me to respond in a way that honors YOU.”

        ((hugs and prayers)) for you, friend.

  18. This post was so convicting and wonderful to read. Growing up, I didn’t always get those words of life at home. I had a wonderful church family, but at school I was the youngest and smallest kid in my class, the only redhead in the whole school – I was different. And schoolchildren don’t always have a whole lot of compassion for those who are different, so the words I heard could be rough.

    Still, the older I get, the more people God has brought into my life who know how to speak gently and use words to lift rather than lower. And I try very hard not to keep my words to myself out of shyness but instead to be bold in encouraging the people I see around me.

    • Amy,

      S i g h…why do kids have to be so cruel sometimes? That is one thing I’ve instructed my kids since they were in grade school–to speak up for the one who needs it! I know they haven’t always been faithful to do that, but it was clear instruction they received from home.

      Funny, but you just reminded me when I was young, people used to make fun of my name (“Hey, Robin, where’s Batman?” and I’m sure other stuff). I never liked it and always tried to think of something smart to reply. I can’t think of a one, now, lol.

      What evidence of the Lord’s work in you to step past your comfort zone to encourage others; a beautiful reminder that His strength is your strength! 🙂

  19. Growing up I was blessed to have parents speak love and kindness into my life and I try to do the same for my daughters. I work with many adults and children who have never heard that they were good, loved or valuable. I pray daily that the Lord give me His words to share and speak, His eyes to see, His ears to listen and His heart to love. Thank you for this lovely post and all the verses!. YES WE ARE KIND, GOOD AND IMPORTANT especially to our FATHER IN HEAVEN. My prayer is the people I encounter that are hurting and do not believe this will someday truly come to believe that they are.

    • Aida,

      It breaks my heart EVERY time I learn that someone didn’t grow up hearing “I love you” in their home. EVERY time :(. What a privilege for you to work with those you can affirm and encourage; you are a vessel of Life and Light, casting truth and love into those lives that are hurting. May you be blessed as your making a difference that has life-long impact. 🙂

  20. I want to thank you so much…..as I read this I was suddenly acutely aware that my “God-Shaped Hole” in my heart is just a symbol of the absence of the words and affection I needed growing up and did not get to hear.

    Sure there was love and there were words said at all the right times, but they seemed to fall flat as if there was no true agape love behind them.

  21. Missy,

    It’s wild when we have words to express something that has eluded us, that we KNEW was true but couldn’t quite say.

    Except I’m sad it’s not a happy revelation.

    And you’ve made an excellent point: insincere words, words with no action to back them up, might as well not be said at all. Empty flattery is nothing more than deceipt wrapped in a pretty package.

    Whether or not our heads know it, our hearts sure do.

    ((hugs))

  22. LOVE LOVE this post girl… just clipped it to Evernote so I can have it forever!! 😉 Thanks for always speaking life over me.

  23. Robin…
    You have personally spoken/written some of the strongest words into my life this past year.

    I’ll never be able to thank you enough.

  24. Robin – I second Ann’s sentiments…your words have spoken compassionate comfort as well as strong conviction in my life.

    The power of my tongue – to bring life or death, to my family, friends, husband, & myself – has been quite the theme for me this year. God keeps repeating Himself…and here again, thru your powerful post.

    Thank you!

  25. Thank you so much for this. I was teased relentlessly as a child, and my biological father was emotionally & verbally abusive. But God, so gracious in his love for me, has brought healing to me through the years. I become so discouraged at times when I forfeit patience & grace and instead dole out my share of a tounge lashing.’ my marriage & children have been so sanctifying, exposing my sins and weaknesses so I have no choice but to cling to the cross. I pray I am a mother & wife who speaks The Word and, ultimately, life into my household. Thank you for the reminder!!