Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, he sing-songed sweetly to my boy, his friend. He’d come over to encourage him after my son ran off the soccer field crying.
It was their first game. The score, with only minutes left, sat at 7 to 1 – opposing team. We have long ago learned we win some and lose some, but this team started taunting the boys. They called out our boys were losers as they ran by them with the soccer ball and my sensitive one couldn’t take anymore. He ran off the field mid game in protest, upset, and his friend came over from the adjacent field. His mom reminded him of what they’d learned – they’re just words.
Oh but words.
I know words may mean more to me than your average human.
I’m a words girl. I’m a blogger. An author. A journal writer. A speaker. My “love language” is, no surprise, words of affirmation.
But words are powerful.
I’ve written a whole series here about words and how we can use them for good or bad.
I kept hearing they’re just words in a loop in my head. Particularly when I reflected on how I’ve been using them with those I love most. Then I see how the Bible constantly reminds us of the importance of words:
Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips. (Eccles. 10:12)
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Prov. 16)
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal… Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body… Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. These things ought not to be so. (James 3)
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Prov. 18:21)
If words are powerful, if words can destroy, if words can encourage, why aren’t we better role models for our kids?
Where does your tongue get the best of you?
If your answer looks anything like mine, the answer is HOME.
Why do we speak with so little patience and kindness for those we love the most, and yet hold our tongues with mere acquaintances?
Think back over the past week or month. Who have you delivered your sharpest remarks to? Who have you criticized or lost your temper with?
Maybe no one! Congratulations!
When I answer the question, I find the answer is almost always my husband or my kids.
The people I love most in the world also see my biggest struggles. My frayed nerves. My stress and exhaustion. As a result, I lose control of my tongue. Like an unbridled horse.
If we want our children to be kind with their words, then we have to model what kind words look like. All the time.
If we want our spouse or family to trust us and feel safe, then we have to speak blessings not curses.
A movie line stuck with me even after two decades. In Pretty Woman, when Julia Roberts’ character is receiving a compliment, she responds, The bad things are easier to believe.
That’s human nature. We carry negative words around with us like a dark cloak.
And there’s so many of them. On the news. In politics. In the office. On the playground. Every day, at least one of my children tell me about a hurtful word spoken to them during the day.
Knowing that, we must create homes where words of life and encouragement and joy and blessing are spoken.
Give your kids, your spouse, your family, your dear friends the gift of gracious words.
Count to ten and bite your tongue if words of hurt are bubbling up.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will definitely hurt me.