The Power of Words
“Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you!” I heard this as a child and was not challenged to think it untrue. But it is…untrue, that is. Words can make or break you, kind words can lift up and change lives, unkind or cruel words can tear down and destroy.
My first experience with the power of words was in high school. My family was a typical American family, my mom did not use bad language or yell at us. My sisters were normal girls, with the usual sister fights, my brother was 6 years younger and we all babied him. So, there was mostly quiet in my home. My dad worked hard and had 2 jobs and was usually amiable and ready to relax when he got home at night, although he came from a feisty Italian/Spanish family. We moved a lot and Mom’s ever positive attitude helped foster a spirit of contentment from each place to the next.
We moved to Arkansas from Alabama in the late 60’s. My twin sister and I felt very welcome in our high school, only to find out the group of kids had been together since elementary school and wow, two new girls from Alabama! We were thrilled with our notoriety. Things settled down and we made friends and focused on school work. Later in the year, a group of about 5 girls, I found out, had been spreading rumors about me, implying that because of my short skirts and flirty nature, I was not behaving with the boys, if you know what I mean. Now, short skirts, guilty, flirty, guilty, sleeping around, NOT GUILTY. And it hurt, it hurt so bad. Words do hurt! The good thing is that with my mom’s wise council, I wrote notes to the girls, apologizing if I had done anything to hurt their feelings. I became their new hero. However, even though I felt better, and they felt better, you can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube, if you know what I mean.
Fast forward 10 years, and I had my own family. Six little children. I made a conscious decision to never call them kids…I called them “children.” I tried not to ever say “shut up,” I said “be quiet,” and there was never (that I remember) any yelling. I believe in the power of words. I also believe that our children are molded by our positive language. To our girls, you’re beautiful, you will be a wonderful woman of God some day, to our boys, you will grow up to be a fine man, head of a family, wonderful businessman, doctor, senator, president, one day! I took my young son to the bathroom every night for several years, to keep him from wetting the bed. I spoke words of confidence and positive things about what a great man he would become. That child has more confidence than any of my children. The power of words.
The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21. Sticks and stones break bones, but words DO hurt!