Friday, April 25, 2008

Sticks and Stones...

...may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

It was 2nd grade in a new school. A group of us were thinking of animal names for each other that started with the same letter as our first. Brandon was a bear. Eric was an eagle. Phil... pig! Everybody found it funny, laughing and repeating it. Everybody except me. I was angry.

"I am not a pig!" I retorted, desperately looking for a different name. They didn't seem to notice I didn't like the name. In fact, the more strongly I insisted on not being called pig, the more they laughed and repeated it. "Pig" was an arrow to my soul, the laughter driving the arrow deep.

Dad was cooking spaghetti sauce as I told him the story. I didin't know what to do. Nobody had hurt me with name calling before and everything I tried only brought more. "Just remember, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Just because they say it, doesn't make it true."

I went away feeling defeated. The word picture was clear enough. My bones weren't broken, but my heart was wounded. Apparently, Dad didn't have a fix for that.

Last night, I was lamenting again hurtful things people had said. "Why are people so hurtful with the things they say?" I asked God. The theater of my mind was replaying samples of people lashing out with words like trapped, wounded animals. Lashing out at people who were different. Different in their political views. In views of God. Different in opinion.

As the movie in my mind continued, I realized I have been that trapped, wounded animal. I have lashed out at people I love, trying to protect my wounded soul from them. Words come out with no thought for what they mean or how they will be received. I laugh to words that wound someone's soul. Is the wounding funny? No, but I haven't stopped to think if what's been said is hurtful.

The movie in my mind came to end end. I sit in silence, pondering what I've just seen. Today, I am choosing to end hurtful, negative talk in my life. I want to build people up, not tear them down.

"May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14 NLT