As a child, my mom used to repeat the phrase “sticks and stones will break your bones but words can never hurt you”. As I recall, I heard that phrase often. This tells me that there must have been many harsh and hurtful words said to me by so-called friends. Today, it’s called bullying.
As an adult, I am very aware of words. Words can smooth a situation over. They can manipulate a person. They can threaten. Words can be either cutting, belittling and cruel or soothing, uplifting and gentle.
Over the last week, I have heard more than my share of stories from friends and loved ones. They are suffering from the power of destructive words. These stories have prompted me to write this blog.
This is for:
1.Those of you who are suffering at the hands of one who has wielded a sword of destructive words.
2. Also, for those of us who, as a rule, speak kindly but at times our emotions get the best of us. At those times we too can spout hurtful words.
I fall into both categories, how ‘bout you?
How do we deal with people who sling cutting and devastating words at us?
- We don’t scream back at them. This escalates a battle that can’t be won.
- We do NOT have to remain in the situation. Kindly say, “I’m not going to take part in this conversation, good-bye”
- Don’t accept their words as truth. Ask God if what they said is true. Think logically, “Was what they said true?” If not, then ask God to remove that conversation from your emotional memory. Pray for God to change the heart of the person who lashed out at you. (If it was true, go to God and that person and ask for their forgiveness, but only when you are not emotionally charged)
- Recognize who you truly are. Words can cripple one’s sense of self-worth if we allow it to. Don’t allow it. Remember, you are created in the image of God. (Gen. 1:27) God wonderfully made you. (Psalm 139: 14)
- Find a good friend and listener. Being battered by words is not easy to handle on your own. Find that friend or family member who has a listening ear. Spend time with them sharing how hurtful your experience was. They are there to be your encourager, let them be the encourager you need.
How can we stop ourselves before we spout ugly & damaging words?
- Don’t allow yourself to become emotionally charged. I know, easier said than done! A friend of mine taught me to “hot-potato” it to God. When you feel yourself reaching that emotional state, call for Help. “God help!” “Jesus, now!” or simply lean into Him. It’s like taking a long breath.
- Step Away. Problems, discussions and conversations don’t have to be had at one sitting. Kindly say, “I’m not able to have this conversation right now”, then walk away or take a walk.
- Pray for wisdom. If there is a “hard” conversation to be had, pray for God’s wisdom, changed hearts for both you and the other person. As a believer in Christ, you have His Spirit living inside you. You will know when it is time to re-address the issue in calmness.
- IF you lose your temper and spout hurtful words. Apologize. Also, ask God to remind you next time to STOP before you reach that emotional boiling point.
My prayer this week has been for those of you who have had words crush your spirit. May the God who created you, also remind you how much you are loved by Him and others around you.