I know you’ve heard the quote, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Of course, we understand that we shouldn’t allow the hurtful words of others to harm us, to define us, or to shape us. Of course we shouldn’t. But what we know we shouldn’t allow and what we are actually capable of not allowing are two different things.
Not long ago, an incredible woman shared with me the way in which she saw herself. The woman she saw herself to be and the woman that I saw were two totally different people. As we talked, she told me about some very hurtful words that were often spoken to her as a child. Sadly, those cruel words have followed her into adulthood. She believes them.
It is astonishing how those words spoken to her as a child have so defined her. She is not alone, though. Many of us have also allowed hurtful words to define us. Hurtful words cut deep into our hearts. Truthfully, wounds from sticks and stones will heal a whole lot faster than wounds from hurtful words. When we encounter physical wounds, our bodies just naturally begin the healing process. But, when we encounter a heart wound from hurtful words, no “natural healing” kicks in. We have to become actively involved in the healing process. In fact, our natural response to hurtful words can be as destructive as the words themselves.
What is our natural response to cruel words? They hurt, and we tend to hold onto the hurt finding it difficult to move past it. The hurt turns to anger, and unresolved anger leads to bitterness. Bitterness is poison to our souls. If cruel words are spoken repeatedly, we start believing those words. True or not, we allow them to define us.
We cannot avoid the hurt of cruel words any more than we can avoid broken bones from sticks and stones. Those kinds of words are just going to hurt. What we can avoid is all the mess that comes after the hurt…but we have to be very intentional.
Here are some thoughts on how to be intentional in healing from hurtful words:
We choose to seek the approval of God rather than man. Galatians 1:10
We choose not to allow anger to move in and make itself at home in our hearts. Ephesians 4:26
We choose to recognize that bitterness is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. (Couldn't find scripture about the rat poison, but Ephesians 4:31 will work)
We choose to recognize that the cruel words of another are more a reflection of who they are than a description of who we are. Luke 6:45
We choose to forgive because we have been forgiven. Colossians 3:13
All of these choices are much easier said than done, so we choose to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us through the process of healing. John 14:26
Instead of allowing hurtful words to define us, we need to ask Jesus to remind us who we are in His eyes. We are fearfully and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:14)
Have a great week.
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