“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Do you remember teasing that phrase around the play ground? It is a cute little cliche phrase that catches on quickly. We like to teach this phrase to our kids with the hope that we can instill in them the idea of self-confidence, ignoring what other people say about them and finding positivity in themselves.
If we stop and think about it however, I think we would realize that this is one of the most deceiving and harmful things we could teach our kids. Perhaps the way this phrase should really be taught is, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but say them enough times and words will kill me.”
As adults we know that words can sting. Not only can they sting, but they can consume and eventually kill us inside. Let’s all face reality for a minute; if you’re called names like liar, loser, pathetic, worthless, failure, ugly, miserable, stupid, or unqualified enough times – you’ll start to believe it. Not only will you start to believe it, but you will be consumed with the idea of proving everyone wrong and that you’re not any of those things.
Let’s take this a step further. If we’re honest with ourselves, every time we try to tell ourselves things like “I am what I say I am,” or “no one can change the way I feel except for me,” or “I accept myself for the mess that I am,” or whatever other crafty little saying you can find on Facebook – these are all just defense mechanisms to cover up the fact that we are hurt by what other people have already said about us. Because we are so consumed by what everyone thinks about us, we need to tip the scales by consistently telling ourselves that their words don’t matter. We have to tell ourselves this because those words do, in fact, matter.
For those of us who are in Christ however, God’s words are stronger than the words of this world.
Child of God.
Because God’s words about us are final through the sacrifice of Jesus, we don’t need to try and find positivity and acceptance inside ourselves. We can rest in the love of God toward us once and for all. His words about us are complete and eternal. There is no need for us to put up defense mechanisms because of what other people say; God’s word carries infinitely more weight.
Christian, rest in the words God has declared about you to be true. You don’t need to spend time defending yourself to others or trying to make yourself feel better. Jesus’ bones were broken by sticks and stones, so that his words would give you life. Take comfort in what was done on your behalf so that you would be given a new identity in Christ.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” – 1 John 3:1