Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!
It’s heard in playgrounds, schools, neighborhoods, and almost any place kids can be found across the United States. As a parent, I’ve told my kids these words. I tried to teach them to be confident in themselves and don’t worry about what anyone says to them or about them.
I was wrong.
I was so wrong.
Words do and can hurt!
This past month I took a social media fast because “words” were getting to me. Words Christians were saying. I thought I was doing pretty good and was ready to get back in the thick of how culture works now-a-days. I learned quickly my skin wasn’t nearly as thick as I thought it was.
“the cool, good-looking people”
I believe it was supposed to be funny and sort of catchy, but for me it caused exactly the opposite. It made me a little angry and a lot of sad. A lot of sad because this was connected with an Easter service. My gut reaction was that Jesus didn’t die on the cross for the “cool, good-looking people”! He died for us all!
What I experienced, I believe, must be what every child or teenager that sits alone, has no one to play with, doesn’t get invited, is picked on, and yeah, even bullied feels; extreme hurt and a little bit of physical pain and nausea. I experienced hurt over words.
I quickly realized that it’s not really the words, but the memory or experiences associated with words. Words conjure up a feeling or experience, a reminder of something. Words are used to invoke meaning, experiences, and emotions. Words hold healing and hurt, laughter and sadness, love and hate, good and evil, life and death.
Words hold healing and hurt, laughter and sadness, love and hate, good and evil, life and death.
My mind drifted to Christ hanging on the cross in excruciating pain, hearing the jeers and the mocking words. Christ was experiencing the full scope of words. Words that were prophesied long before His birth. Words that described Him. Words that led to His death. Words written above Him on the cross. Matter of fact, in the book of John, Christ is described as the Word. Think of the power that Christ has and He is the Word!
How often do I say, “I didn’t mean anything by it. They’re just words.”
Words. Just words.
But I tell you everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. ~Matthew 12:36-37
So here’s where I’m at and what I need to do.
I need to examine my words.
I need to be careful of what I put out into the world and, especially, on social media. Because they may just be words to me, while to others they invoke an experience. Before I share, comment, post, like, or any other emoji, I need to hold it up to God. How do I want others to experience my words? Who’s watching?
Sticks and stones will break my bones and words, however benign you think they are, may surely hurt me!