“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt.” How many times have we all heard this before? How many times have we wished it were true? Words have an unimaginable power to build someone up, tear people down, make someone’s day, or desecrate their esteem. But why do we let other people’s words act as our self-definition? When someone calls us stupid, fat, or useless why do we automatically assume that it’s true? If we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), how could we possibly be all the horrible entities people make each other out to be?
The way I see it, the basis of fear of detrimental statements comes from fear of rejection or denial. As humans, we need to have the satisfaction of knowing we are accepted into a group. When a person is unwanted, the need for approval and acknowledgement only grows as that person searches for more. But think about this: How often do you seek God’s approval before your peers? How often do you pay attention to that one diminutive remark tugging at your heart while God is trying to turn you towards Him for healing? Refutation only makes us doubt ourselves, see worthlessness, and brainwash us into believing that God had finally made a mistake. But God doesn’t make mistakes. And He made you. Read 2 Timothy 1:7 and Psalm 139:14.
But let’s not start thinking that we’re the only victims of these horrendous declarations either. Let’s face it; we have used the influence of words to damage our enemies too, even our friends and family. But why do we do it? We do it out of anger, frustration, or even if we, ourselves our hurting. We use it as a balance. We drop one insult on one person, and our esteem goes up. We break up someone else’s confidence in themselves to upsurge our own. And that’s really sad. What I don’t understand is why we continue to do it even when we know how bad it hurts; but we’re all guilty of it. So how can we learn to use our words only when we want to build someone up? We might need to know what’s ok to say as building them up. Just as an example, your friend doesn’t wear deodorant, but you can tell that they need to. Will it hurt their feelings to tell them that they need to start using deodorant? Probably, but only because they’ll feel embarrassed. In the end, it only helps them improve. There will be many situations like this. What about if your friend simply straight out asks you what you think of her new makeup style? What if you think it makes her look like a clown at a convention? You wouldn’t say that to her of course, but you would be honest, right? Maybe you could tell her that her face is beautiful without the makeup, but if she wants to wear it she might want to use a little less/try a different color/blend more. Ok, gentle honesty may not feel like you’re increasing their self-esteem, but it does act as the perfect glue for keeping their stability. Read Psalm 39:1 and Proverbs 10:18-20.
Healing from hurtful terms unfortunately may take awhile if you’re not used to thinking about what God says you are verses what people temporarily think about you. Remember that time when that classmate called you stupid for misunderstanding the problem? You couldn’t hear it, but God told you he made you with a brain and intelligence to go with it. Remember when you messed up and were called useless? God told you he was going to use you, and he had plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). Really, comparing what people think and what God knows, which one seems more likely to be true? The almighty God who knows everything, made everything, and can do anything? Or the kid who just had an angry outburst because he didn’t hear your side? Remember that when it comes to God, He’s always right, and He made you exactly how He wanted you to be. Now let’s practice making words never hurt ;) Read Psalm .