Sticks and stones…
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
Who ever came up with this lame quote really messed up a lot of kids, including myself. For much of my childhood I heard this phrase repeated to me countless times. Many times I heard it from teachers who would repeat it anytime someone in class wasn’t being kind with their words. Teachers used this as their tag line to continuing moving forward with the day and not having to actually deal with the hurt that Sally or Sue caused on another student…they ignored our feelings.
This tactic worked for much of my childhood, and even some of my teenage years. But eventually, the phrase stopped working and words started hurting. At someone point the words that were constantly fed to me started to make their way into my mind and begin to originate new ideas about myself that were untrue. I started to believe that I was not loved by my family and friends because somewhere I stopped hearing what they were saying, and started hearing lies that the enemy was feeding me.. you are not important.. no one cares about you.. you are stupid.. you are worthless.
When I read those words again, I find it hard to know I once felt that way. However, for many years, that’s exactly how I felt. I didn’t feel loved because I mistook what people where saying. No one was telling me I was not important, instead that thought was created on my own. No one thought I was worthless to them, instead I felt worthless because I didn’t think I was enough for them. I made myself feel this way, no one else can do that.
These thoughts began during a time in my life when I was trying to change my life for the better. I was trying to make improvements in different areas and when I slipped up I had people who would tell me so. They were only offering to help but I mistook their eagerness to help me as words that felt like they were trying to hurt me. Not only that but I mistook regular conversation as an attack against myself.
So what did I do about it? I ignored it. I shoved those feelings away, and repeated in my head, “Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” I lied to myself. I told myself that I was not enough. I even told myself I wasn’t allowed to feel the way I did. Almost as though what I thought or felt had no meaning. Because even though it was important to me, didn’t mean it was important to someone else. It felt like the world was against me, but in reality I was against myself. I listened to lies straight from the enemy and believed them. I was convinced that everyone else made me feel the way I did, as if they had the power to control me.
A friend once told me “what you feed grows.” When I feed myself lies, thats what I will continued to believe. But when I feed myself truths about who I am, something crazy happens… I start to believe it. I started realizing that the people in my life were not against me, I was against myself and I was winning. I can’t be angry at the people in my life whose words I have allowed to hurt me, because that is not their fault. I can’t control how people will treat me, I can only control how I will react to it. So I’m done giving other people the power to hurt me with their words. I am done believing the lies that I tell myself. I am done believing that I don’t have the right to my own emotions no matter what they are. Instead I will start believing what God says is true about me, that I am loved no matter what my past says about me.
So maybe the quote should actually read like this…
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I wont give words the power to hurt me.”