“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
My first memory of hearing this untrue statement came after my classmates saw I had lost my two front teeth. I watched my teacher’s mouth move as she delivered this jingle, gave me a hug and wiped my tears. I believed my teacher, but my classmates’ words were painful: “You are a Snagglepuss!”
Why would my teacher tell me something so untrue? Her face didn’t look like she believed it, even as words of encouragement. And, though I enjoyed the Snagglepuss cartoon character—a pink mountain lion with a lisp—my classmates meant to hurt my feelings with their words.
Words are the best invention since the napkin when they are used in a good way. Words can encourage, lift up and offer confidence. The right words spoken at the right time can give the listener just what is needed to move forward.
God used words to create everything, including us. We are created in God’s image, and we have the ability to create using words.
As disciples, we are called to follow and practice the teacher. Do your words encourage, lift up or give confidence for ourselves and others?
Words are life-changing
Examine your words by looking at God’s words.
Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
So shall my word that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it will accomplish that purpose and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130)
Valora K Starr is director for discipleship for Women of the ELCA.