"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me". Or so the rhyme goes, but I don't believe it. Years later, it isn't the skinned knees I remember as much as the careless words spoken by various people, either malicious or not. Words are powerful, and leave lasting impressions, for good or ill. I can remember becoming self-conscious about my voice and appearance as a teen due to comments from others (at least one was just careless, and at least one was manipulative).
I can also recall the kind words people have said, so words do not only have power to hurt, but to build others up. Of course, as a Catholic I am well aware of the good power of words, given that we believe God spoke the world into existence.
Having been a teacher, and now having children of my own, I am more keenly aware of the power of words. All too often I have hurt with my words, albeit unintentionally. It is usually a careless comment, too. I am aware now that I rarely out enough thought into my words to ensure they do not hurt. I pray I can be given the grace to do better with at, for, contrary to the rhyme, words can hurt, and their scars can last a lifetime. I do not wish to be the one through whom such hurt comes, but instead wish to speak charitably, kindly, making my words build up, not tear down. I fail a lot, but with e grace of God, it is possible. And I know I would give just about anything to keep from hurting my children.