I’m not really sure how the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” came to be (and I didn’t care to look it up), but it’s completely bogus.
Because words are powerful.
Yes, I am well aware that “actions speak louder than words” and that you are to “practice what you preach,” but I don’t think we need to diminish the strength our words can have.
Because words matter.
I can think of so many instances in life when people said words to me that I still carry with me today. Whether they were good or bad, I still have them. Maya Angelou has a famous quote that says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” But, the thing is, sometimes it’s what you say that makes people feel a certain way, and they won’t forget those words that engrained themselves in their hearts.
I’ll never forget when I made the horrible decision to do a triathlon, and when I wanted to quit during the swim, my dad yelled: “Merrills don’t quit! Turn over and do the backstroke!” Now, whenever I want to quit something when I feel defeated, that line echoes through my mind, and I press on and find an alternative way to stay afloat if I need to. His words had power.
I’ll never forget the guy at my church who said to me, “You know, you’re really small. But I have a feeling that God is going to have you do big things in life.” Though I often like to think that I can do far more than I actually can, it’s good to remember that God is so mighty and can use anyone to accomplish anything. I like to remind myself of this when I’m feeling too powerless to do certain things in life–God is so much bigger than any obstacles I will ever face. His words had power.
I’ll never forget when a professor in college told me that I really didn’t belong in sports reporting and would never make it, because it really wasn’t a place for women. He suggested I change my major. I emailed him my first post-collegiate published article. His words had power.
I’ll never forget when author Annie Downs said to the audience at the Called Conference in Tennessee, “Brave people hear the voices of fear and step forward, anyway.” My goal in life is to be bold in all that I do. But, let’s be honest, there are some things that cause my palms to sweat or my heart to beat wildly with anxiety and make me want to run away. But that’s not what brave people do, and I want to be brave. Annie said God made me to be brave–I remember her words, and I believe them. Her words had power.
I could give so many more examples, but they would all convey the same point: words have power. Your words can hurt people. Your words can heal people. Your words can make someone’s bad day better. My heart feels something I can’t explain when my students say meaningful things. Last week, two students nominated me for the Righteous Redhawk Award at our school, and what they wrote on their nomination forms made me want to cry. Their words had power.
Sometimes it’s difficult to bite your tongue in certain situations. But just think about how something that takes you less than 10 seconds to say can stick with a person for much longer than you could imagine. Let your words be full of love. Let your words be like song lyrics that you want to sing over and over. Let your words be powerful in a good way.
Let love always win in what you say.