Sticks and Stones

When you speak healing words, you offer others fruit from the tree of life. But unhealthy, negative words do nothing but crush their hopes. (Proverbs 15:4)


The unofficial Todd Blackledge Uncommon Lectionary takes us to a great place once again. The Proverbs are a great source of pithy wisdom in biscuit sized bites, and this morning’s scripture does not fail. So grab your coffee and let’s digest this one.

I have always disliked the kid’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Really? In what universe? Words have the power to break a mood, break a spirit, break a childhood, and even break a life. Having broken a few bones, and also having received the tongue lashing of harsh words, I can attest to the fact that words hurt more. I bet you can, too. This may be folklore, but I have heard that a healed bone break produces a stronger bone. I can’t say the same for a soul that has suffered from breakage by negative, self-esteem destroying words and attitudes. Words can linger through a lifetime, and they can leave a significant mark.

I have a friend who was raised in an environment of negative words. Overly distracted and uncaring parenting lead her to seek affirmation outside of the home. The extreme harshness of constant criticism from her mother took her down a dark and lonely path, leading her to attempt suicide and participate in dangerous behavior. When she wasn’t wilding, she was trying to disappear. Her world was void of any color that usually goes along with a normal childhood. Later in life, she was fortunate to meet a stable and caring man, but the words she received from her violently angry mother are still a part of her daily existence.

In counseling, I experience the aftermath of the words of war that people inflict on each other. Every sentence that comes from your mouth can either inflict hurt, or bring fruit from the tree of life to someone. I think the difference lies in our ability to practice self control. Everyone gets angry. Everyone is frustrated. Everyone looses their temper now and again. But the pivotal moment lies in our ability to practice the fruits of the spirit….or to abandon them and give into our need to rage.

Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Self control. Just walk away. Take a break. Count to 20. Leave the room. Go outside. Anything but give into your anger that might result in a soul-crushing vomit of damaging words.

How would it be if we decided today that this week we will only offer words that uplift, build up and offer the fruit of the tree of life to those around us? How would it be if we decided that this week, we will avoid any words, tone, or attitudes that might crush the hopes of those around us?

So there is your Monday challenge. You can do it. With God’s help.

#obxsunrise brings a new day. Use this do-over well. Photo credit: Michelle Robertson

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