We can all remember a time being at school, the playground or any place kids would gather together. The sounds of laughing and screams of delight would indicate that peace and harmony was flowing like a river.
We can also recall the times when the vail of joy would suddenly be pierced as laughter turned to tears. The atmosphere would change as a dark cloud of hatred could be felt and heavy harsh words would echo out for all to hear. A child cries out, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words won’t ever hurt me!” This was followed by the tears of anger, hurt, frustration and rejection. The faces of the children would all have the questioning look as if they didn’t know how to respond. Some children would be sympathetic and offer their support, unsure if they will be targeted next. Others would feel forced to join in on the negative behavior hoping they will be safe from the next attack.
So, if the saying is true that words will never hurt me, then why do words hurt us so much?
I too have been a victim to the crippling effect words have had in my life. I was bullied as a child by my peers and a teacher. Then came emotional and physical abuse by a boyfriend for three years. My earliest memories of abuse probably came from my home. The one place where a child is supposed to feel safe and secure. This was not the case for me or my siblings. Words were used like daggers in my house. They were always aiming for the most vulnerable spot to inflict the most damage. I actually found this verse in the bible “They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their bitter words like arrows. (Psalms 64:3 NLT)” The deep wounds that were caused made me ill-equipped to deal with the many emotional battles I would encounter growing up. The feelings of insecurity, abandonment, low self-worth and rejection were my battle scars. I bandaged them all up the best I could, hoping they wouldn’t burst open and I would feel the pain all over again.
As I became an adult I realized I was not alone in my pain. I found out that many adults suffer from emotional scars. Some were from abusive homes, some were bullied in school, some felt unloved and some just felt they just never fit in. The negative words we hear impact us much deeper than we think. It’s cause and effect on our thoughts mold how we respond in certain situations.
The bible says, “The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:14 NIV) Sickness is bearable for us, but not a damaged spirit. Wow! Our inner self or spirit just can’t handle the abuse! The inner self worth is in a constant tug of war between being valued and being worthless because of words spoken over us. The saddest part is most people don’t even realize they are broken. We do the best to try to get through the days unscarred, but the damage has been done when we respond in a negative way.
The stories we hear on shows like Oprah would confirm the brokenness we can carry from words! In the bible it is written in the book of Proverbs, “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing”. (Proverbs 12:18 NLT) The words we use can bring joy or misery! I don’t think many people realize the power that lies in their mouth! What amazes me the most is that even with all the new information we have people still speak such destructive words!!! In fact, television shows, YouTube videos and social media encourages this! The children on TV shows speak disrespectfully to the adults, kids speak nasty to one another on social networks and YouTube is constantly exploiting people’s weaknesses. Our society is filling our heads with “stinking thinking” as Joyce Meyer so eloquently puts it.
The truth is we have allowed garbage to change our mindset. If we hear something over and over our mind begins to think it’s truth. There is a saying, “the truth shall set you free”. Well, this is, actually, a bible verse, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV) The truth is God loves you regardless of your past, present or future. We need to fill our mouth with words that encourage, inspire, that give life to ourselves and to others! When we replace the lies with the truth we become free!
We need to be accountable for what we speak. When we realize the power of our words we speak differently. We will pause before we accuse. We will encourage rather than condemn. If we are wise with what we say we can become the example to our youth. Changing how we converse with them will start to change the way they speak too. The power of our tongue… who knew something so small could have such a huge impact in our life. Maybe if we start using kind, loving and nurturing words we can not only change our hearts, but I believe we can change our world!