(all together, now)
words will never hurt me.
One of the many lies of childhood. (Tooth Fairy? Santa Claus? Your face will get stuck like that?)
Well, actually, I really believed it growing up. I had to. Kids made fun of me so much, this phrase made me believe that I could be like rubber and “boing flip” words they said to me.
I think the phrase might be a ‘lil more accurate if the saying went something like,
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will have such a lasting effect that I may have to go see a counselor for the rest of my life. Thanks.”
I’m a clutz. I hit my head, shins, knees, toes anywhere and everywhere. It hurts when it happens. But the pain and memory of it eventually fades. (And I never learn, because I still hit my shin and knee on the same coffee table that we’ve had for years).
But, words? — man. We can recall the horrible things people have said to us decades ago, can’t we?
I remember talking to an elderly gentlemen who still could recall, with vivid memory, how when he was in the 6th grade, kids would call him “droopy pants” because his family couldn’t afford pants that fit him right. Over 6 decades later, he still remembered how those words made him feel.
I recently decided to revisit Luke’s Gospel for my devotions.
I’m sure I’ve noticed this before, but I didn’t really pay attention to it until this time around.
In the first half of Luke (that’s how far I got in my devotional readings, so far), most of Jesus’ healing miracles (if not all) are done by Jesus speaking to the person. More than touching the person to heal, he spoke to them.
Like the paralyzed man who was brought by his friends.
Like Simon’s mother in-law where Jesus “spoke harshly” to the fever she had.
Like the demons, in the story following Simon’s mother in-law, where Jesus also “spoke harshly” to the demons.
And so many more…
Not to mention, God spoke the universe in existence.
Which reminded me, once more that
Our words (also) have power.
Our words can build, restore, affirm, heal.
Our words can give life.
But our words can also destroy.
Our words can mar the image of God in a person.
Our words can snuff the light out of someone’s soul.
In the immortal and wise words of Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
The problem may lie in the fact that many of us (myself, strongly included) may not think (or remember) that our words have such great power.
Or that adding, “… just saying” absolves anything horrible that was uttered before that two-word phrase.
Scars of the heart and soul don’t mend and heal as easily as broken bones caused by sticks and stones. Or attempting to jump over a friends car, and miserably failing. (Thankfully, the biggest injury was to my ego — not only was I embarrassed, I had lost the bet that I could jump over the hood of his car.)
May we be mindful of our words and use them not to belittle, deny, and destroy, but use them to uplift, to build and to give life.