“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Words do hurt and can hurt quite deeply. Destructive, nasty words can stay buried in your memories for many years. When were the last times someone said kind, uplifting words to motivate or comfort you? On the other hand, when were hateful, degrading words spoken to you? How did those words affect you? Words can curse, and they can bless.
Children are vulnerable to hurtful words. Demeaning words can have a damaging impact on their lives. When you batter negative words such as, “you’re stupid, you’re useless, I hate you, I wish you were never born,” into their heads: is that not like putting a knife in their backs? Those are curse words that could turn them into emotionally broken people.
A little girl parted from her parents when she was four years old. They went to live in another country, and her grandmother raised her. She was a shy, insecure child. She suffered from a lot of illnesses. Therefore, she was underweight and really skinny. Her family made fun of her weight and constantly teased her about her size. The “name calling” made her feel insecure about her body.
When she was 12, her friends started developing breasts. Each day she excitedly looked at her own breast and waited for them to get bigger. Months went by, but they didn’t grow much beyond two buds. Her friends sniggered when she wore swimming costumes. They commented that her breasts were as flat as a pancake. They used mocking words to describe her breasts and named them “two fried eggs.” The never-ending name callings deepened her lack of self-confidence. She felt like a boy in a girl’s body.
Two years later her other grandmother came back from abroad. She decided that this girl should live with her. Her gran took her away. They travelled to another country.
She met her mum and dad for the first time since she was four. They were like strangers to her. She hated the new country and pined for her homeland.
The children in her new school didn’t like her. She was different to them and spoke a foreign language. They teased her skinniness. They named her remarkably long legs, “leg’s eleven” because they were so thin.
When she walked to the shops alone, the white boys bullied her on the streets. They yelled, “Go back to your country monkey! We don’t need your sort here.” She felt like running away, but she went home instead, locked herself in her bedroom and cried. She was so unhappy.
Her mum and dad were always arguing and shouting at each other. She overheard her mum one evening. She angrily screamed at her dad, “I never loved you. I only married you because I was pregnant with your child, who I didn’t even want. She was a bad mistake that ruined my life.” Unkind words rang in her ears again. She wanted to curl up and die.
Damaging, knife cutting words
When she became an adult and got married, the name calling continued. Her ex-husband barked at her in fits of rage. “You’re useless. You don’t even know how to be a proper mother to your kids. Look at your moody face! Why don’t you fix yourself up you b….?” He even insulted her about her past relationships.
The name calling continued for years. Her anger towards him turned into bitterness. One day she released her suppressed voice. It was just as nasty as his. They frequently tossed aggressive words, undignified words, spiteful and threatening words at each other like darts towards a board.
During one of their destructive words slinging matches one day, she angrily screamed, “I wish you were dead!” The words came rushing out of her mouth. She couldn’t take them back. It was too late.
Four years later, he died. Her words didn’t kill him. However, the guilt of those vicious words she yelled at him will live with her for the rest of her life.
Words can build up or words can tear down. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Words said in anger or even jokingly can have a lasting negative effect. Don’t use your words to destroy someone’s life. Use kind words to show love and affection and to build up.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21.
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Photo credit: Dan