I remember a long time ago, as a little girl I would say those words to someone who was being unkind to me. Truth be told, I would much rather have had sticks and stones than the unkind words people said to me or about me. Words can really hurt us deeply. We all know what it feels like to have someone spit venomous words at us – those words can stay with us for a long time. In an unexpected moment those words can come back to you and the old wound is opened and you feel fresh pain at the memory. I have spoken to adults who are still bruised by the unkind things a parent said to them when they were little.
So what do we do with the unkind words that have been spoken over our lives? I have a few suggestions:
1. Try to put those words into the proper context: Sometimes we take words out of context. I know there is no excuse for unkind words, but as humans we do have a tendency to exaggerate those unkind words in our minds. They become crueler and more vicious with time. Perhaps you need to stop and reflect and remind yourself of the context in which those words were spoken. Don’t make them worse, or bigger than they actually were.
2. Do not let those words define who you are: Remember you are God’s child and He has spoken good things over your life. Who will you listen to? Will you let those vicious words define you, or will you let the words that God speaks over your life define you?
3. Forgive the person who spoke those words over you: Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel message. We have to learn to forgive even the worst of sins. I know that some people have been hurt deeply by some cruel and malicious words, but even so, we have to forgive. If we want healing then we have to forgive those who have harmed us.
4. Let go: There comes a time in our lives when we need to let go of those things said to us. Maybe today is the day you let go of all the anger and hurt. The person who said those words to you is infinitely more needy than you are. For someone to be cruel and unkind makes them a deeply troubled and needy person. Let go of those words spoken over you, they are untrue, and they are certainly not worth holding on to.
5. Ensure that your words are kind and life giving: When you have been exposed to cruelty you want to ensure that you never become an instrument of injustice or unkindness.
There is a lovely verse in the Proverbs 25:11 that says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I encourage you today to give someone a golden apple. You know the impact of unkind words, but you are also the recipient of kind words. You remember how those kind words warmed your heart. Find someone today that you can bless with a golden apple. It will change your whole day, but it will also change theirs.
I am and always will be,
Recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,