Sticks and stones my break my bones
But words will never hurt me!
We all have heard that phrase spoken from the mouths of unknowing children. How I wish it were true! However, as I'm sure you have also learned, words sometimes DO hurt. Even when we don't mean for them to hurt.
I'm reading a book right now called Healing Waters. I'm just over 1/2 way through and I love it. In the book the main character, Lucia, is dealing with her sister, Sonia. Mainly with always being in her sister's spotlight. Sonia is somewhat of a celebrity and was the favored one of her parents when they were children. She was in a tragic accident and Lucia is trying to help in her recovery process, mainly by taking care of Sonia's neglected 6-year-old daughter, Bethany.
Lucia can really relate to Bethany and is remembering many things from her childhood thanks to Sullivan Crisp, a psychologist who also came to help Sonia. But Sonia doesn't think she needs anyone's help, so Sully and Lucia have been meeting to discuss Bethany. Sully is also trying to help Lucia. She tends to put herself last and put herself down. She buries her feelings under piles of food and, naturally, her body is showing that fact.
Reading this book has really made me think about what I say and what has been said to me.
Can you remember something that was said to you from your childhood that, for some reason, has really stuck with you? I can.
I grew up going to a Catholic church. My mom would pile all of us kids in the car and do our Sunday morning duty by attending Sunday school and mass. Being raised on a farm in a family with not a lot of money, I would often wear the same dress week after week. It was all I had.
One particular Sunday I had to wear my not-so-nice jeans because my dress wasn't washed - actually nothing was washed. The pump from our well had blown up (again!) and we didn't have any water for about a week. So no laundry got done. In a house with 7 people, you can imagine how the laundry would pile up. I can remember getting water from a spring we had and my mom warming it on the stove so we could at least get washed up.
So after mass on this particular Sunday morning, a girl - I believe she was 16 or 17 at the time and I was probably 8 or 9 - said to me, "I can't believe you would wear that to church" (referring to my ratty jeans) and walked away without allowing me to explain. Not that I would have because that wasn't my way back then. I was very backward as a child and would never talk back to her, even if she was just a stupid teenager.
I can remember feeling as the little girl in this book seems to often feel - utterly rejected. Hurt. Wounded.
Now this particular thing said to me has not shaped my life. I haven't had to spend years in therapy getting past it or anything - in fact, I've never even been to therapy. I can simply remember it pretty clearly.
What does that say about something that was said to me over 30 years ago? That words do matter.
What I say to my kids now can have an impact on them as an adult. Wow! Words have the ability to build up or tear down. I pray that my words will always be constructive ... not destructive. I pray that I will choose words that will build up ... not tear down.
My philosophy now at church is one that I believe Jesus would have. I don't care what you are wearing. I'm just glad you came to church. Welcome ... Worship with us.
I sincerely hope that the girl (now woman) who said that to me those many years ago has also adopted that philosophy.
I guess my moral here is to watch your words carefully. Even something seemingly insignificant can make an impression on someone impressionable. Especially our children. They are most definitely impressionable.
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
~ Proverbs 15:4
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.