What Have Sticks, Stones, and Words Done to You?

As a child, I learned to sing the song "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." The song was supposed to defend me from the teasing words of my peers who poked fun at me for being overweight. In reality it was far from the truth. Their words did hurt.

There are many people who are struggling in life today, not because of physical injuries on a playground, but from words spoken out in anger, rageor disgust. Physical injuries through the years have healed, but words have not healed so fast. For many, negative and destructive words play over and over like a bad movie in the heart and soul.

Words are very powerful. We listen to the words spoken to us and they impact us more than we realize. They move us, inspire us to action, comfort and encourage us, bring healing, or they can crush us and devastate us. We can be changed either positively or negatively simply because of words. We are even impacted by our own words and tend to follow what we have declared. You have heard people say that they are not good enough or smart enough and it seems that their life follows suit. They almost become self-fulfilling prophecies.

I am reminded what the Bible, specifically the writer of Proverbs, says about the power of words: "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:20

Be careful of what you say as it just might come to pass. I am not advocating that we never speak what is reality. If we are hurt, angry or depressed, denying it is not going to make it go away. I do think it would serve us well to take inventory of our speech. What would it be like to tape ourselves on any given day? We probably would not be very happy by what we heard. What are we declaring about ourselves on a daily basis? What is our self-talk like?

When we speak, we really are listening to our own words and those words are impacting us either positively or negatively. What would happen if our words started sounding more like a motivational speaker directly talking to us? Put another way, what would happen if we were intentional about speaking words that brought life and encouragement to ourselves?

Our words are powerful. They are ever changing us and others around us. What kind of life do we really want to live? If our tongues have the power of life and death and you and I are going to eat the fruit of our conversations, I say it's time to start speaking in the right direction. If we can learn to encourage, build up and not to tear down ourselves or others around us, I believe we will experience powerful changes of good "fruit" in our lives!

My challenge for you this week:

  1. Make a list of experiences in which words directed toward you had a negative impact.

  2. Next to each experience, write the word, "wrong".

  3. In the future, when these negative experiences are triggered in your mind, immediately tell yourself a positive story about "you."

You will find that once you take these steps, you will be taking the necessary action to reverse the negative impact of words in your life!

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