When I was growing up – well, I still am – when I was younger, there was a popular phrase, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I don't ever recall saying it, but do remember hearing it yelled across the elementary playground.
The problem with this phrase is, it's a lie.
Have you ever broken a bone? It hurts for a bit. But you get attention from people when in a cast, sling or on crutches. Then you know what, you heal quickly. Maybe you learn not to jump off the roof, but that's a story for a different time.
Have you ever been insulted? Ever overheard people talking negatively about you? In these cases you don't get a cast, sling or crutches, and you sure don't get attention from it. You simply have to deal with it on your own. You can either take their summation of you or discredit it – but it still hurts either way. And it hurts for a long time. In fact, it can and does shape your internal voice about who you are and what you do. It impacts you for a long time.
- Proverbs 18:14 The human spirit can endure a long illness, but who can survive a crushed spirit?
- Ephesians 4:29 Don't let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them.
The words we choose to use can do one of two things: lift people up or tear people down. Make wise word choices.