Whoever claimed, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”–lied.
Nearly 20 years after the incident, the memory of the wound still exists. It’s one thing to be on the receiving end of a “zinger” from someone you don’t know, or when there’s no malicious intent. It’s quite another issue to bear the brunt of a comment from someone familiar to you. One who knows your insecurities and uses them for intended harm. Have you been there?
We started off as friends, working together on a project. Things changed when I was chosen for a leadership role; a role this friend coveted. She began casting disgust toward me, complete with heavy sighs and eye rolls. Her words became curt, loaded with snide remarks, seemingly to minimize my value. Not knowing how to respond to her barbs, I simply smiled, trying to remain true.
One day, the words she uttered left me stunned. With a glint in her eyes and a smirk on her face, she placed her hand on my stomach. Patting me, she said, “When’s the baby due?”
All my life, my midriff has appeared somewhat like a cream puff in a t-shirt. Even when I’ve had an occasional, tiny waist (it has happened), my middle has been a bit “pudgy”. I’m okay with this now, (mostly), however, 20 years ago, with a tender self-esteem, I was not. She knew me well enough to know I was not “with child”. She also knew this area to be one of deep insecurity for me–I’d shared this with her. Otherwise, those words may not have cut like a knife.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what the big deal is here. So, it was a mean comment, get over it! I have. However, this memory serves as an important reminder to myself. How I make others feel about themselves, says a lot about me. Sometimes, I don’t like what I see.
I have to eat my words periodically, taking them back due to incorrectly judging someone, or perhaps taking them out of context. I’m sometimes wrong, or just plain snarky. Can you relate?
Nuggets of helpful wisdom appear in God’s word:
“Death and life are in the power on the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Prov. 21:23
Finally, “Judge not, that you not be judged.” Matthew 7:1
Words can hurt. The next time you have a zinger dancing on the tip of your tongue, remember this anonymous quote:
“If the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you still be beautiful?”
Lord, help me increase my understanding of the impact my words have on others, and to pause for thought before I speak. May I become more aware of the words I choose to use so I might build others up, rather than tear them down. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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