“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

How many times as a child have we heard this? Or said it in response to what was being said to us? And how many times have we so wished this sentiment from our childhood was true?

No big deal! They are only words! ‘In language, a word is the smallest element that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content – with literal or practical meaning.’ This ‘smallest element’ ironically has tremendous power in our lives. This is true whether they are our own words or the words of others.

. . . but words will never hurt me.

How many times have we heard you’re not good enough, not talented enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not young enough, not popular enough . . . the ‘not enoughs’ are unfortunately in endless supply. And how those words bruise us! In many instances they take away our happiness, our self esteem, and rob us of our dreams.

. . . but words will never hurt me.

And yes, even those words left unspoken have a huge impact on our lives. Like some of the examples above, its best they remain that way! But what of the others? Those powerfully affirming things that are left unsaid? I’m proud of you. I believe in you. I support you. I appreciate you. You are beautiful. You are kind. You make me smile. Thank you. I love you. I’m sorry.

. . . but words (unspoken) will never hurt me.

A dear friend once said that all the things said to hurt you can bruise you. And the funny thing about bruises is they don’t hurt until somebody pokes them. We all have those bruises – the deep ones that you cant see. The ones you forget you have until they get poked. By a careless word from someone we love or something we perceive by what’s left unsaid. Or even the words of strangers. The more they get poked, the more they hurt. Oftentimes more than the first time we heard them.

. . . and words will never hurt me.

What do we want our words to say about us? Do we wield them as weapons or use them to heal?

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

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