Do you remember that phrase from childhood that goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
Actually that is not true. In fact, that is a total and complete lie.
Just the other day I was talking with a woman who told me about an intense fight she had with her husband and in the middle of that fight she said, “maybe we should just get a divorce” and then walked out the door.
Words are powerful. Some words kill and others bring life. Words name things. If you name a child stupid or dull, they may live with that for life. Some words are like toxic chemicals we put in the ground, and nothing good can grow there again for some time. There are likely things that were said to you in childhood that are still polluting the way you see yourself today.
Words can get in you and they pierce you, like a sword, they go inside. Not just physically and psychologically but also in a community. I am incredibly grateful for the spirit of Christ I see in our faith community today, but we’ve probably all experienced hurtful words destroying community. Words have the power to destroy people and groups. That is why the scriptures say that, “gossip separates close friends.”
The reason gossip is so destructive is because it immediately destroys what we need most in life – relationship – and when there is gossip, a barrier is immediately put up. Once that barrier is up, we enter a process of hiding. When we are hiding we cannot be seen or known, and the relationship is halted.
Words have the power to destroy, but words also have the power to heal. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
How can you use your words to bring healing and wholeness, encouragement and insight to the people you interact with today?