Proverbs 12:16 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Words hold power. They can speak life, and they can destroy a spirit. I remember, as a child, we used to say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Even back then I knew that was a lie. Words can hurt. Consider the topic of bullying; more hurt is inflicted with name-calling, shaming, and taunting than with physical assaults. More adolescents commit suicide over words than punches! 1
Words begin with thoughts. The human mind processes an astounding number of conscious and subconscious thoughts per day, the estimated amount of thoughts per day ranges from a conservative 12,000 thoughts to a liberal 70,000 thoughts. 2 At either end of the spectrum, that is a lot of thoughts every single day.
But thoughts also begin with words. Imagine the difference the type of thoughts you have can make in your life. If you grew up hearing you were stupid, would never amount to anything, were called ugly, fat, unacceptable, were left out or bullied because you were considered different, those thoughts can continue to play in your head, affecting you your entire life. For example, I can still hear my elementary school music teacher telling me to mouth the words instead of singing for our Catholic school Easter concert because I couldn’t sing. She made this statement during rehearsal, on-stage, in front of everybody, and the rest of the students promptly began laughing at me. I had been excited about being in the pageant, and my teacher’s words crushed me. For many years, I refused to sing, ever, because I reminded myself constantly that I couldn’t sing. We all have stories similar to this one.
So, let’s rise to the challenge of choosing our words carefully, both the words we speak to others and the words we think to ourselves regarding ourselves. Try, beginning with a 24-hour period, avoiding saying or thinking anything negative. This exercise requires mindfulness. We will need to rearrange some sentences. We will need to avoid specific words, such as ‘not.’ Are you up to the challenge?
Let’s learn to use our words for healing, both of ourselves and of others, as God intends, rather than using our words as swords that pierce!
1 “Every-Thing.Net.” n.d. Accessed April 24, 2018. http://www.aesthetic-machinery.com/every-thing.html.
2 “Facts About Bullying.” 2013. September 13, 2013. https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html.