"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
True? Partly. Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words hurt too. Words can do more damage than sticks and stones. Bruises and broken bones heal. But sometimes the damage of words leave lasting scars…scars that can not be seen by the outside world, but scars that leave a lasting impression on the heart of the person that has been hurt.
Several times this week verses have been illuminated to me in my quiet time…on my drive to work…through emails or blogs…
"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ." Philippians 1:27
"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." James 1:19
"Watch your talk! No bad words should be coming from your mouth. Say what is good. Your words should help others grow as Christians. Do not make God’s Holy Spirit have sorrow for the way you live. The Holy Spirit has put a mark on you for the day you will be set free. Put out of your life all these things: bad feelings about other people, anger, temper, loud talk, bad talk which hurts other people, and bad feelings which hurt other people. You must be kind to each other. Think of the other person. Forgive other people just as God forgave you because of Christ’s death on the cross." Ephesians 4:29-32
The Holy Spirit is trying to teach me something--something about the way that I interact with those around me and something about forgiveness. Through lots of reflection this week, I've determined that sometimes what you don't say can be just as hurtful as the spoken word. You see, words hurt, but so can the unspoken word…the oversight in calling someone or returning their message. The unspoken word is not necessarily out of malice or intent, but it unintentionally hurts the person that it is not verbalized to. The unspoken word leaves a person to wonder if you care or if you forgot about them or if you are too absorbed with yourself. The unspoken word can lead a person to believe the worst about you. The Bible warns us to be cautious in the things we say. I believe the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me to continue to watch what I say…to allow Him to give me the words before I open my mouth…to allow Him to move me to speech in situations where those I love are looking to hear from me. I believe the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me about forgiveness…to forgive myself when I hurt someone with my spoken or unspoken words…to forgive others when a hurtful word is spoken to or about me or those I love…to allow forgiveness and love to remove the scar from my heart that a word has left behind.
I think the song Lifesong by Casting Crowns says it best,
"May the words I say
And the things I do.
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You."