Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will ALWAYS Hurt Me

Growing up as children we always heard the saying
“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
It’s interesting to me that we said those words many times, believing those harsh, hurtful things people said wouldn’t make a difference 5, 10, or even 20 years down the road. Well I beg to differ, I believe there is tremendous power in the words we say to one another and I see the effects of it on a daily basis.
For those reading that don’t know, I have a very interesting, challenging, and rewarding job. I work at the county jail completing mental health assessments on inmates as they are booked into the jail. There are many questions on the assessment I complete but one of the sections we spend a lot of time on, is the history of abuse they endured growing up.
As you can image, most of the inmates I work with have suffered severe and traumatic abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse. I hear horrible stories of things that happened to my clients when they were younger and I’ve noticed a theme while I’ve been working at the jail. No matter what level of abuse they’ve experienced, they always, ALWAYS remember the verbal abuse. The words we say are powerful, they can hurt us or build us up. Scripture tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). The harmful things people say stick with us forever, we believe them to be true and we have a difficult time erasing it from our minds.
I know sometimes we don’t intentionally say things that hurt people but it is important to remember that even our tone of voice makes a difference. I recently had a disagreement with someone and I thought to myself “I can’t apologize for how you reacted to what I said.” While I believe a small part of that to be accurate I realize now that it doesn’t matter if I delivered it well or if I didn’t intend to hurt them, if they received it in a way that hurt I still need to seek forgiveness for that.
The bible tells us “The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:23-24). There is power in the things we say and the way we deliver the things we say, may our words always be encouraging, uplifting, sweet, kind and build each other up. May we live out what Ephesians 4:29 says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
I hope we continue to remind ourselves of the importance of the words we speak and don’t forget the consequences.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence (Proverbs 10:11)
With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered (Proverbs 11:9).
A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).

“Hi, I’m Jackie!”

“There she is again, why do I keep seeing her, she is everywhere…
Oh no, she’s walking over here, why is she walking over here,
please walk past me, please walk past me,
surely she’s not walking toward me… to talk to me!!
Oh my gosh yes she is, what do I do, what do I say, why is she walking over here?”
“Hi, I’m Jackie!”

Nope, that’s not an excerpt from a book, those are the thoughts going through my head as a 13 year old, when a bubbly, bright eyed, energetic red head was walking toward me at church one morning. I was so painfully shy at the time and so completely controlled by anxiety that when the words “Hi, I’m Jackie” came out of her mouth I just began to cry. I had no clue why this girl wanted to be my friend. I couldn’t understand why this social butterfly, who could so easily make friends with anyone, would want to be friends with the awkward girl sitting by herself. But oh how thankful I am that she befriended me, I love her to pieces!!

I don’t share that story with everyone but I am choosing to share it today because today I got a text that said “That’s so awesome! You HAD to be a leader. That’s one of your many gifts!” As I read that text to myself God struck me with overwhelming joy. Never in a million years did I think the word “leader” would be used to describe the shy, bashful, anxiety driven teenager that cried when people talked to her. Never in a million years did I think the word “leader” would be used to describe the girl who had to get special permission from teachers not to do oral presentations because she would have a panic attack and hyperventilate in front of the entire class. NEVER did I think this was the path God was taking me on.

Several months ago I felt the Lord calling me to step up and lead a community group, I ignored His tug on my heart saying “I’m not ready God, I’m not strong enough in my faith to lead other girls in their walk.” I was so focused on the “I” part that I never heard God shouting “You are equipped because I have equipped you!” God knew what he was doing the whole time but my self doubt and Satan’s loud voice won and I ignored God and continued to ignore Him despite the overwhelming tug on my heart. While I was going through equipped disciple I came across a verse in Acts where Paul is speaking to the Lord and he asks “‘What shall I do, Lord?’ and the Lord replies ‘Get up,’ and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.” That verse opened my eyes to see that I had been seeking God’s direction in my life and wondering when he was going to give me the answer and He had already told me multiple times to “Get up and go!”

Over the last 2 weeks the Lord again has been speaking to my heart and I had been prayerfully considering speaking to WM staff about leading a small group at the upcoming Launch retreat. Without any knowledge whatsoever this had been on my heart, a girlfriend said to me “Are you going to lead a small group at launch?” Those words trampled all over the doubt Satan had been once again placing in my mind and gave me the ability to clearly hear the Lord saying “Get up and go Brandy.” So I did and today I received confirmation that the Lord will be using me in that way. The Lord continues to prove his faithfulness, and continues to reassure me that He has a far better plan for my life than I could ever have imagined and I am so excited to see where He will be taking me next.

I hope as you read this blog you will carefully listen to what God is trying to say to you and find the courage and strength to follow where He is leading. Remember, God does not call the equipped, but he equips the called!

1 Corinthians 1: 25-29 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[a] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being[b] might boast in the presence of God.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

What Are You Holding Onto?

Recently a girlfriend and I were talking and she asked me if insecurity is a sin?” I immediately spouted out my answer, YES, and told her insecurity is not from the Lord. I reminded her that the Lord created us perfectly in His image and scripture tells us the hairs on our head are numbered (Matthew 10:30) and He knit us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

The definition many of us have of beauty come from the world, not from scripture. Scripture tells us that a woman who fears the lord is to be praised (Psalm 31:30), that woman should adorn themselves with modesty and self-control (1 Timothy 2:9), beauty is having a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:3-6). I encouraged her to equip herself with scripture that will help her get rid of those thoughts of insecurity that Satan so proudly places in her head so often. 

As I thought about how much she struggles with this I was reminded that many of us have things we are holding onto that we haven’t been able to give over to God. Pride, selfishness, people pleasing, jealousy, envy, insecurity… The list goes on. I hope as you read this blog, you will find comfort in knowing that God is greater than any struggle you are going through and He has the ability to help give you the strength to overcome your struggles.

About a year and a half ago, I made the decision to stop drinking alcohol. I did so after meditating on a conversation I had with my beautiful friend Julie. Julie was talking about how anything we choose to turn to, to comfort ourselves in times of distress instead of turning to the Lord is a sin. This really hit me hard. At the time, I was turning to other things in additional to alcohol to seek comfort but I was particularly convicted by the consumption of alcohol in my life. Looking back now, I realize I just wasn’t ready to surrender the other things I was struggling with. I slowly started telling people “I don’t drink anymore” and drinking several drinks then became 2 drinks, 2 drinks became 1 and soon I wasn’t drinking at all and I didn’t even miss it! A couple weeks ago, I was having dinner with my friend Kristin and I realized although I was no longer comforting myself by turning to alcohol, I still hadn’t been able to let go of comforting myself with food and emotionally eating. While Kristin was sharing her past struggles with me and explaining how she overcame these similar challenges, she said to me, “I was standing in front of the cupboard, staring at what I wanted and I just began to quote scripture, guess what, Satan doesn’t like that very much, and he leaves you alone!” DING! The light bulb went off. That’s the thing I was missing, I wasn’t turning to God when I was being tempted.

Going through equipped disciple taught me the importance of memorizing scripture and one of the verses we memorized was 1 Corinthians 10:13. Digging into the word I found 2 other scriptures I have recently memorized; Romans 12:1, Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship (Yes, as I type this it is from memory) and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. I recognize that this battle is far bigger than I and I will never be able to do it on my own. So as I drive to the drive through to get Chic Fil A and the yummy chocolate chip cookie on the dessert menu is calling my name, I will quote these scriptures. If I have a bad day at work and want to reach for greasy food to comfort me, I will ask the Lord to help me find strength and I will fight the battle I have been fighting for 5 years with new armor and weapons. I have faith that after giving control to God, He will help me over come this struggle that has been weighing me down.

So friends, I challenge you to identify the thing or things in your life that you are giving into that are not honoring the Lord and search God’s word and equip yourselves with scripture to help you fight the battle. Titus 2: 11-12 tells us “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say NO to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Don’t be a fool as I was and think you can do it on your own, God is the only one who can pull you out of the mess you have created for yourself.