Sticks & Stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

What a crock!

Our words carry immense weight and have the potential to cause damage years after a careless comment slips from our lips.

This weekend we spent the 4th of July with family and friends. I had ample opportunity to witness several conversations in which one or more people were undoubtedly hurt by ill chosen words.

In all honesty I was stunned by what I heard and it saddened my heart.

It happens all the time, and I would venture a guess that we are probably numb to it.

Our culture in all its attempts to be politically correct, socially responsible and environmentally friendly fails miserably at holding our tongues and using the power of words responsibly.

What does this look like?

1. We make a joke at our spouses expense in order to get a cheap laugh.
2. We point out a friend or family member’s weakness in order to gain the upper hand.
3. We say something hurtful under the guise of speaking the truth in love.
4. We fail to consider the other person and seek to gratify our desire to lash out, share inappropriately or hurl an insult out of frustration.

When does this occur?

This most often happens when we find ourselves dealing with difficult people (see my last post), when we feel threatened, jealous or hurt.

When we engage in these types of word assaults we are nothing more than a verbal bully. We can try to rationalize and justify all we want, but the truth is words hurt and we are responsible.

The spoken word both positive and negative have lasting effects on us.

Many years ago a co-worker insulted me about my appearance. This person was comparing me to another co-worker and giving an ESPN style play by play in a room full of my colleagues. Needless to say I was embarrassed and angry.

Years later I still hear those insults and comparisons when I look in the mirror.

Words hurt. Words linger. Words have power.

Unfortunately for many, the church has not been a safe place either. In the name of Jesus we verbally throw people under the bus with our words.

We say things that are designed to “help them grow” or “make them aware” but often times what we are really doing is trying to make ourselves feel better and more important.

This grieves God’s heart. We are His body. We are to reflect His glory for all to see His love, His goodness and His kindness. This cannot and does not happen when we are engaged in verbal mortal combat with our brothers and sisters.

Scripture is pretty clear on this issue. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

In Paul’s letter to Thessalonica, he reminded them to “Encourage one another, and build each other up…” as he knew the value and importance of words and our responsibility to one another.

As you go about your week, I encourage you to consider the power of your words and look for ways to speak words that build up rather than destroy.

How have you been wounded with words?

Grace & Peace ~ Karen

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20 thoughts on “Sticks & Stones

  1. R.A. Snyder says:

    It doesn’t bother me as much to think about what’s been said to me as it does to think about what I’ve said to others. And I grew up in a house with very little love or affirmation.

  2. Elizabeth M Thompson says:

    The world would be such a better place if only we could tame our tongues!

    My Dad used to say, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can really hurt me.”

    In answer to your question, most times when I am hurt by someone’s words there is a nugget of truth delivered with a dollop of distortion. It usually takes me a while to extract the nugget, and longer to discard the dollop. When the victory comes and the distortion is gone, I can take that nugget of truth to God and seek relief from the defect in me exposed in the nugget.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Beth,
      I love your ability to wrap concepts up “a nugget of truth with a dollop of distortion” that paints such a great picture for me. I agree – often when I am hurt there is truth in what was said, but the delivery was all wrong. God is the great filter and He is able to extract truth and help us apply it in a way that soothes rather than inflicting damage. So glad you stopped by!

  3. Elizabeth M Thompson says:

    The world would be such a better place if only we could tame our tongues!

    My Dad used to say, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can really hurt me.”

    In answer to your question, most times when I am hurt by someone’s words there is a nugget of truth delivered with a dollop of distortion. It usually takes me a while to extract the nugget, and longer to discard the dollop. When the victory comes and the distortion is gone, I can take that nugget of truth to God and seek relief from the defect in me exposed in the nugget.

  4. Kathryn Champion says:

    WOW! Can you believe that WORDS are the reason that I take part in a program called Celebrate Recovery???? It’s true! I had to start a new school in a small town in 5th grade. It was one of those schools where, if your last name wasn’t one of the “right” ones or you hadn’t been there since day 1, you were considered a nobody and treated as such. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but to this day that is where all my insecurity comes from. I automatically assume that I am not going to be wanted or accepted in a new group so I tend to withdraw instead of trying to join in.

    I’m working really hard with God to overcome this and He has truly brought me a looooooooong way! However it is a DAILY challenge for me still. Way too much to go into in a comment here – I am hoping to blog about it soon (on my blog) as another step in the ‘healing’ process 🙂

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Hi Kathryn! I can believe it! I was involved with Celebrate Recovery for about 2 years as a worship leader and heard numerous stories of the wounds caused by words. Thank you for sharing your experience here on the couch. I pray that as you turn this over to God that you are able to hear HIs words about what is true over the echo’s of the past.

    • Heathersfaith says:

      I will pray for you on your journey in CR, Kathryn!  It’s like a rollercoaster, but let’s stick with it…it works! 🙂

      • KAREN COOK says:

        Amen to that Heather. Sometimes it gets harder before things get better. Hang in there – work the steps and trust the Lord will meet you in the spaces in between.

  5. Heathersfaith says:

    Great post Karen, and so true!  I have recently started the Step Study in Celebrate Recovery.  I think I mentioned that to you when we met.  WOW!  God is really blowing my mind with what He is revealing to me about all the lies I believed about myself growing up. The enemy loves to magnify those lies and swirl them around in our heads so that we focus on the pain in the words, thereby keeping us from knowing our identity in Him.  One thing that has been a huge light bulb for me is realizing that I am powerless over other people!  What a novel concept lol.  But I am not powerless to pray!  Prayer is my freedom! 🙂 

    Thank you for your wise words, Karen.  I LOVE reading your posts!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Thank you Heather for your kind words and encouragement. Isn’t it funny how when we stop trying to control others we find peace? I hope that you continue to find help and hope in Celebrate Recovery in through the word. Thanks for stopping by today!

  6. Cindy Holman says:

    I’ve been wounded so many times with words – in person and in emails or letters.  I usually have to wait at least a day before responding when someone attacks me.  But if I’m honest – the ones who can hurt me the most are the ones I respect and love.  Getting in close with people is always a risk – and sometimes it back fires when they are hurt and lash out.  I try not to do the same – but I’m sure I have done my share of causing pain to others.  Words are so powerful.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Oh Cindy I feel your pain. When we open ourselves up to love we risk being hurt. Couple that with some unhealthy people and it can feel like a free for all. I too have been deeply wounded by the words of someone I considered to be a trusted friend and confidant.
      My favorite verse is Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart always for it is the well spring of life.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your heart.

  7. Eileen says:

    Great post.  My first marriage was verbally abusive.  It’s amazing how you become desensitized by hurtful words and name calling.  They become “normal”.   I never realized how disrespectful and hurtful they were until I was no longer in the situation.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Eileen, I am sorry that you had to endure abuse. When we are subjected to hurtful words over time, we often begin to believe them as truth. Thankful you are out of that situation – grace & peace to you as you live in the light of truth!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Thanks Beth…I got a big smile as I envision you saying “ba-da-bing!” I so appreciate your friendship and encouragement…you are a blessing in my life!

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