Almost every kid knows the saying, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” There is never a saying more untrue! In fact, words often hurt more than physical wounds. Why? Because we all know that if we say something, it comes from the heart. Our mouth reveals what’s in our heart. Have you ever said something hurtful and then try to smooth things over by saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that?” If you’re honest with yourself, yes you did.
Lingering Effects of hurtful words
Psychologists have found that the memories of hurtful words linger far longer than physical hurt. Guy Winch, Ph.D., listed five reasons that emotional pain is worse than physical:
- Memories Trigger Emotional Pain But Not Physical Pain. Recalling the time you broke your leg will not make your leg hurt but recalling the time you felt rejected by your high-school crush will cause you substantial emotional pain.
- We Use Physical Pain as Distraction from Emotional Pain Not Vice Versa. We rarely see a woman choosing to manage the pain of natural childbirth by rereading the rejection letter from her college of choice but teens will practice “cutting” as a way to relieve and distract themselves from deep emotional pain.
- Physical Pain Garners Far More Empathy from Others Than Emotional Pain. When we see a stranger get hit by a car we wince, gasp, or even scream and run to see if they’re OK. But when we see a stranger get bullied or taunted we are unlikely to do any of those things.
- Emotional Pain Echoes in Ways Physical Pain Does Not. If you got a call about your parent dying while you were having a romantic lobster meal with your partner on Valentine’s Day, it will probably be a few years before you can enjoy lobster or Valentine’s Day without becoming extremely sad. But if you broke your foot playing softball in an amateur league you will likely be back on the field as soon as you’re fully healed.
- Emotional Pain but Not Physical Pain Can Damage Our Self-Esteem and Long-Term Mental Health. Physical pain has to be quite extreme to affect our personalities and damage our mental health but even single episodes of emotional pain can damage our emotional health.
Our words impact those around us
It’s true that our words impact those around us – both positively and negatively – and we can be both intentional and unintentional in hurting others with what we say. Sometimes our words don’t convey exactly what we’re intending to communicate. For example, here are a few announcements found in actual church bulletins:
- This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Smith to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.
- The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind, and they may be seen in the church basement on Friday afternoon.
- This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.
While the above bulletin bloopers are simply poor grammar and word choices on the part of the writer and can be humorous, sometimes we say critical or unkind things as if they were a joke. However, if we are honest with ourselves, usually we feel there is some amount of truth to what we are saying when we are “just kidding”. We try to cleverly attempt to wrap up harsh words in a pun or some other attempt at humor, but such words still hurt.
From the abundance of the heart
Jesus taught that it is from the abundance of our heart that our mouth speaks. If it were not in our heart, it probably would not be coming out of our mouth. Our words shows our character and the character we should be showing is the glory of God in whom we are made in His image. Let’s make sure the words that are spoken come from a heart that is focused and in fellowship with our Savior. Make sure the words that spring forth from your heart and come out of your mouth build others up – not tear them down.
Our nation and our world need to experience a revival. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their land.” Revival begins with the people of God. We invite you to join us in praying for revival for America and our world.
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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce
What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?
God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:
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