In truth, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” is probably the biggest lie we are told as children. It is intended to shield us or help “rise above” the verbal abuse we may encounter. In essence, it is a form of avoidance.
Here are the dangers of spreading the “sticks and stones” message:
1. It teaches us to avoid bad situations.
My mom would remind me of this saying when I would come home devastated by the taunting I faced in elementary school and junior high. I was counseled to “be the bigger person” and “just ignore” the people who only said hurtful things.
2. It teaches us to deny the heinousness of verbal abuse.
It teaches our daughters that as long as their boyfriend doesn’t hit, grab, or punch them, they are OK. It teaches our sons that it’s OK to say whatever you want.
3. It teaches us poor coping skills.
As a society if we downgrade the power of verbal assaults we also downplay the power words have to heal. Good coping skills include words. Lots of them, in fact, delivered in the right time and at the right moment.
I don’t know who invented that phrase, but the Bible has a few words about the power in words. Here are a few:
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Proverbs 21:23 “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”
Proverbs 25:18 “A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow.”
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
James 3:10 ” From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so”.
Romans 10:9 “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
The plan for man, began with the Word. Man enters into God’s plan with his word. How then are words not powerful? Words have the power to hurt or to heal. If God used the Word to save the world, certainly you can use His Word to heal it.
If you’ve been hurt by words, here are three ways to begin being healed.
1. Confess your hurt.
We try to deny that other people hurt us. We want to save face. Admit you were hurt by the words. Free yourself from having to cover it up.
2. Forgive the offender.
Ouch. Yep, it’s in the bible. Mathew 6:15 “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
3. Speak affirmations to build yourself back up.
If you have been hurt by words, you have to be healed by them, too. It is always nice to hear a nice word from another. But, we can’t rely on that. We have to be in the habit of speaking scriptural based affirmations to ourselves. What does God say about you? What does he want you to say about yourself.
How do you get over the pain of harmful words? Please leave your comment below.
Really awesome post here, Julia. that saying is such a false statement. I wonder who started it? Anyways, I believe that you first have to realize who you are before not letting outside influences really affect you, such as negative words. I love your action steps to deal with this!
Julia Winston says