“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Whoever thought up this saying, I’d like to give them a stern talking to (that’s about as intimidating I get honestly). I was thinking about this blog post last night and I began remembering the times that someone had hurt me with their words. I recall, and have told this particular story many times. When I was in the 5th grade, I was awkward. I was a bit chunkier than my peers, and I wore the goofiest looking glasses. I was extremely self conscious and one day at an outdoor recess a girl called me fat. I don’t specifically recall what lead up to this but I remember what happened afterwards, I threw a water bottle right at her head. I was so tired of people’s harsh words towards me. I simply couldn’t take it anymore.
I still remember this girls name. I remember when people made fun of my weight, my skin tone, my freckles, my hair, my laugh, my smile, and my clothes. Words hurt. I truly believe that words carry enough weight to break people. See, we are a people that thrive on the approval of others. It is extremely important to us, and social media builds upon this, that we show only our good sides. We only post the best pictures, only the happy things and events in our lives, when most of our lives are lived in the every day mundane tasks like working, going to school, cleaning, and sleeping. To clarify, I see nothing wrong with posting these things on social media, because our world needs more positivity, yet out of this we create comparisons.
I think that during this election, we’ve seen that words matter. Sweeping accusations against large groups of people, defining them, and ultimately exiling them is hurtful. Those words matter. Our words and jokes can be helpful or hurtful. I find that the saying, ‘think before you speak’ is more important now than ever. It is not an attempt to be politically correct (or whatever that is) it means, at the end of our words there are people. These are real people who’ve suffered and lived in their own unique ways.
Our words about someone’s weight, their job status, or their living situation matters. If someone does something we find strange or wrong, our words should be coming from a place of love or concern. We should be reaching out attempting to understand those who are different than us, not shunning them.
Our words and thoughts about ourselves matter too. Still at 23, with a family, and a husband who gives me compliments on the regular, I barely can bring myself to look in the mirror. Having a baby changed me. My skin shows stretch marks, and my skin is a little more loose on my belly. My hips are a bit wider, and my hair falls out in large chunks. Yet, when a close friend complimented me, I immediately replied with a sarcastic “thank you.” and kept looking at my reflection criticizing it. Many days when I look in the mirror I see the little girl who was told she was fat and ugly. I see the girl who was 75 pounds lighter and was still so insecure she wouldn’t wear a tank top. You see, I carry the weight of people’s words with me every day. I’ve let those words define me in the past. I pray that as a continue to raise my son, I don’t ever make him feel less than with my words.
How do we do this? How do we make our words help the world to be better?
I pray that for myself personally I can be a direct reflection of the fruits of the spirit.
“But the fruit of spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control; against such thing there is no law.” Galatians 5-22:23.
I also pray that in the every day mundane, I don’t define myself but what others think. That I live the life that God created me to because that is what is the most important. Now, I know that this is extremely difficult. I don’t say this and expect we all go out and heal our wounds that are deep, hurtful wounds immediately. I pray that we go out and don’t project our own insecurities on others. That we don’t throw the sticks and stones.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12.
We can be kinder. We can be more loving. We can think before we speak. We can heal others wounds.
Friends, I know that this is so hard. Gossip is easy. Judging is easy. Loving other is difficult, showing empathy and kindness is hard. Yet, I believe that we are all completely capable of being these kind of people. I pray that we are kinder to ourselves. That we give ourselves a break, that we wear our scars of life proudly and unashamedly.