“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
When I was a little girl, my sister and I used to play a silly little game, where we would call each other food names as insults. For example, Cabbage was a very hurtful food name. The more unappealing the food, the harsher the insult. When Ronda called me a “Brussel Sprout!” I would respond with “Spinach!” Using harsh tone of voice, we accentuated the syllables to really drive the insult home. We got very creative, elongating the food name, such as “Green bean casserole” or “Liver and Onions” giving the insult more validity. We would laugh as we pretended to be insulted by the food name.
While playing a game with food names to pretend to hurt each other’s feelings is innocent and silly, real insults and harsh words penetrate our soul that leave gaping wounds on our heart too deep for an “I’m sorry” Band-Aid. Unhealed wounds take root deep into unforgiving soil that has been cultivated by bitterness and anger over many years.
A few years ago, I had taken a phone call at my previous place of employment from an angry customer who didn’t get her way. She shouted at me rather than talk and her words were ugly; there was nothing I could do or say to calm her down. Just before she hung up on me, she called me “useless.” Now, I’m sure this woman went on about her life, not even giving me a second thought. Normally, I would just brush that stuff off, but for some reason, using the word “useless” to describe me ate me up inside. I wore that Useless name tag for three weeks. Finally I realized that Useless was a name I was often called in my past. Even though I have healed from that part of my life, that word was a trigger causing me to relive a time I would prefer to keep in the past.
“Their taunts pierce me like a fatal wound;” Psalm 42:10 [TLB]
The old adage Sticks and Stones was used to encourage children to ignore the insult and refrain from retaliation. Our world today is much different from the late 1800’s when this phrase made its first appearance in conversations. The fact of the matter is, people who are hurting hurt people. Sometimes people tear others down, so they can elevate themselves. They have been hurt, and unhappiness is all they know. In order to feel better about themselves, they use their harsh words without thinking about where those insults will land.
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
~1 Thessalonians 5:11 [NLT]
Let us try to use our words to speak life to everyone around us. Let us encourage and empower one another, to build each other up, remembering that our worth and value comes from God, NOT from man.
by Julia Charleston
Donor Relations Coordinator