We’ve all heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We’re probably all well aware that this is a false statement. We’ve been hurt by the power of someone else’s words, carelessly spewed from unkind lips. A more complete and accurate statement about the power of words comes from Charles F. Glassman: “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you . . . unless you believe them. Then, they can destroy you.” We know that broken bones can heal over time, but heart wounds can last forever.
We can be insulted and yet not feel scathed by someone else’s words if we don’t believe what was said to or about us. If we’re secure in who we are and know that what others are saying is not true, then it doesn’t have to affect how we see or feel about ourselves. It’s when what has been said is something we’ve considered about ourselves or seems to have a speck of truth in it that it can cause great damage.
When I was in middle school, my family moved to a new state for my father’s job. I was trying to find a place to fit in among all of the students at my new school, most of whom had known each other since kindergarten. I was a late bloomer and a tomboy, so I wasn’t really interested in hair or makeup like many of the other girls. One girl in my grade noticed that I didn’t shave my legs and started calling me “Beast.” I was humiliated. I went home that day and asked my mom to teach me how to shave my legs. I doubt the girl who hurled the hurtful name at me even remembers that incident today. I, however, have never forgotten her or how she made me feel with one pointedly cruel word.
Words can also bring about great healing. We’ve all probably been on the receiving end of positive, encouraging, and healing words at some point in our lives. I’m often greatly encouraged by someone else’s words.
My love language is words of affirmation, so I’m very sensitive to the things said to and about me. I feel most loved when someone speaks words of life and encouragement over me. I feel affirmed and seen when my husband tells me that I’m a wonderful mother and wife. Specific compliments help me believe that what he’s saying is what he truly believes.
An acquaintance recently told me that, while I don’t speak often in group settings, when I do speak, she knows it’s going to be something worth listening to because my words are well-thought-out and contain wisdom. Her compliment was was uplifting and also a good reminder to me to consider my words because of the power they contain.
Read the rest of this article over at The Glorious Table.