We all occasionally kick ourselves in the mouth with our own feet. It’s inevitable. However, I have been thinking recently about two phrases that are particularly troubling to me, each for a different reason: the first because it is an expression of laziness and the second because it is utterly false.
The first phrase: “Words cannot express how I feel.” If words cannot express how you feel then why even bother to speak such an anemic sentence? As I see it the uttering of such a phrase means that the speaker is either a. a lazy person or b. someone who has no vocabulary.
God has given us voices and mouths and brains and experiences…so that we might be able to express how we feel in words. I understand how in the heat of the moment…as in the Cardinals pulling out a stunning victory in the NFC Championship yesterday, could lead to someone speaking such a phrase.
But in the everyday stuff of life, this is a weak out and one that generally bugs me. Karla thinks I’m a bit overboard on this, but that’s how I feel. In this techy age it saddens me a great deal that spoken and written expression is probably at an all time low.
Well, perhaps the Middle Ages could compare. Anyway, just an encouragement to you all the next time you are tempted to use such a yawn of a phrase, to think twice. Words cannot express how grateful I would be if you would do so.
The second phrase: “I know exactly how you feel” is not an anemic phrase, it’s just a false one. Those who have at least a high school diploma in life skills should keep this phrase tucked into their back pocket only for the trivial matters of life.
For example, to the young man who loses a boggle game to his father, the father might rightly say to his son, “I know how you feel.” With both father and son being competitive, and the matter not that important, the phrase gets a pass.
However, for an event with any gravity to it, these words are better left unspoken. Regardless of what you or I have been through the best we can possibly say is that we might know something of what said person is going through… even if we think it looks exactly the same.
The graver the issue the greater is the offense and hurt of these words. I know most people mean no offense by this phrase either, but this one hurts. As a pastor I hear of, and see, many painful things…one of which is these six words spoken together.
Only the sovereign God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob revealed in the Bible could ever rightly speak these six words. “The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 121:7-8).
So what do some of you think about these two phrases?