This Brings Life {Day 4}

{Photo Credit: Dana Tentis}

{Day 4}

“The tongue has the power of life and death.”

~ Proverbs 18:21a NIV

I wish someone would have warned me about what strangers might say that morning I walked into the welfare office to register for food stamps. Since our income was cut in half when I stopped working to start treatment, we had no other choice but to lean on the government to survive. I adjusted my bandana around my bald head and signed in for my appointment.

When I sat, I noticed a sweet teenager wearing tattered jeans cuddling her baby. She asked a few questions about my circumstance as I lifted my infant out of her car seat to calm her. She then wondered how my chemo treatments were going? I said good, and mentioned I only had a few rounds left. After a short pause, she shared about her aunt having such-in-such similar sickness, and doing well all the way up until the end. Then her health tanked.

My mouth opened a little, unsure of how to respond. I knew this girl was young, maybe 16? I knew she didn’t understand the fear gripping my heart from her crushing comment, but I also was not prepared for her candidness. Pulling my daughter tighter, I bit the inside of my quivering lip.

This was the start of many well-meaning encounters I’d experienced with strangers. I believe people want to share something once they find out we’re sick, so they jump to the only similar story they know. Sadly, their lopsided comments are just that.


So if someone tries to tell you how their aunt Martha passed from a similar condition, they’re only repeating this news because they don’t know how to respond. Please, for your sanity’s sake, try to dismiss these speculative comments.

Better yet, be prepared. If someone starts a story this way, gently stop them and teach them the right words to say. Maybe tell them, “Can you just say you’ll pray for me? Saying those positive words are so helpful.”

Or maybe politely inform the story-teller that their unsettling tale is not helpful whatsoever. Consider even coaching them with the right words…and possibly share that they should never repeat this scenario to another warrior, such as yourself.

Maybe we need T-shirts that say,

“Your friend’s cancer story isn’t mine, unless she’s thriving 25-years later.

Please, if you don’t have anything uplifting to say, don’t say it at all.”

Sometimes the best thing to do is force the corners of your lips into a semi-smile, and walk away if the disparaging conversation continues. Some people won’t understand, and sadly, they may never realize their uncomfortable comments until they walk through sickness themselves.

Remember, this is your miracle you are living for.

Our words have power. The Bible says so. We build each other up, or tear others down each time we open our mouths. This means we need to be aware of what we say, as well as what we allow ourselves to hear.

We use our tongues to speak the truth, morphing our mind towards the positive. Start the pattern today, all the while encouraging others to follow suit. We can be trend-setters, you and me.

Hmmm. I’m thinking of a better T-shirt slogan,

“Speak positive words over me.

This brings life.

The wisest man said so.”

~ Proverbs 18:21


Have you ever had anyone speak something negative over you?




Ask God how you should respond next time, and write what He says:



“Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips.”

~ Psalm 141:3 NLT


“Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but

wisely spoken words can heal.”

~ Proverbs 12:18 GNT


“So encourage each other and build each other up,

just as you are already doing.”

~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT


This was Day 4 of my 30-Day Devotional for the Newly Diagnosed from a (Former) Professional Patient.

If you missed the previous devotionals, click here for Day 1, here for Day 2, here for Day 3.

My hope is to offer this 30-Day Devo as a free download on my blog, but here’s the catch.

I’m a writer, not an editor.

If you have a grammatical tip to offer, or something sounds wonky, or doesn’t flow, please post and let me know, and I’ll be sure to mention your name in my acknowledgement section. 😉

My dyslexic brain thanks you!

In His hands (Glory),


PS To sign up for future blog posts, click here.

{When God Intervenes}


  • Laura Bennet

    Great post! I confess that I have been on both sides of this. I think I’ve shared stories that haven’t ended up being encouraging which, of course, I realized as the last words left my lips, making me want to fall in a hole. I’ve also had people try to encourage me in my previous chronic illness with stories that discouraged because they didn’t really relate. I appreciate you enlightening us about how to think before we speak!

    • Dabney Hedegard

      Me. Too. Eek. We learn from those blunders, though, right? We are not perfect…we can just try to love others the best we know how, and encourage them when we feel something they’ve said has come off as discouraging. I hope you’re having a great week, Laura! xoxo

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