Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words…
Words what? Words will never harm me?
That is how the sentiment reads, but it isn’t true, is it?
And it never was.
Did you know that many of those who are verbally abused say they would rather be hit than called the things they are called? The physical wounds heal, but the words can stay with you for a lifetime. (See Weapons of Choice Project, https://medium.com/@richardjohnson_9358/weapon-of-choice-8534f89c5a67 )
The news and social media has been inundated with postings and conversations about the horrific use of guns recently. Shootings have taken place at concerts, places of employment, clubs, and schools, killing and wounding many people. There is no question that we need to collectively find a way to end these tragic incidences and get to the heart of why they are happening.
I find it curious that at the same time we scream for gun control (which truly may help but is unlikely to get to the “why’s” of these events) we don’t seem to have control over our weapon of choice…words. We, in fact, easily spew hateful words at each other even as we “discuss” this very issue.
Words have power to give life or to kill.
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise bring healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)
Stop for just a moment and think back to something someone said to you along your life path that still can pierce like a sword when it crosses your mind. Any of these come close?
“You’ll never amount to anything.”
“You’re a worthless piece of trash.”
“You’re a disgrace!”
“You’re stupid…fat…ugly…a loser…a failure…etc.”
We can overcome the abusive language thrown our way, but more often than not it sticks to us and can eventually turn into negative self-talk. (That is a subject for another day, however.)
By the same token we can leave messes in the lives of others with our words. We pull out the dagger and stick it in the most tender spot at just the right time.
Maybe it is just a rotten habit, or perhaps for a fleeting moment it gives us a feeling of power over someone else. I want to suggest that real, lasting power comes in the ability to control our tongue instead.
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” (James 3:3-5)
Yes, the tongue is a powerful force! It can destroy, but remember, it can also “bring healing” and give life.
Ponder with me again…What has been said to you that breathed life into you? That gave you hope? Did they sound like any of these?
“I’ll walk with you through it.”
“You’ve got this!”
“I’ve been where you are.”
“You’re not crazy!”
“I love you!”
“You’re my favorite!”
“I’m not leaving, I’ll be right here.”
“I think you are wonderful!”
“You bring me joy!”
How do you feel when you hear those words? How does it feel when you offer them to someone else?
How does it feel to use your tongue to offer life instead of death?
They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king
They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began
Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out
Let my words be life
Let my words be truth…
(Words sung by Hawk Nelson, Songwriters: Jon Steingard / Matt Hammitt / Seth Mosley)
It is easier than ever to drop words like bombs as we sit behind the screen of social media. These bombs destroy as much as any physical explosive device.
What if our words were just different? What if instead of dropping bombs we were planting seedlings that could grow strong and beautiful?
That my friends, is living your one beautiful life well, and offering beauty to those around you.