“Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never hurt me” is possibly the most fallacious defence mantra taught to children.
Words create life and they bring death, hence the need to warn against their power.
A couple of months ago a young friend, with the best of intentions, confided to me that a faction in an organisation of which I am a part refer to me as “The Bitch”. It cut, and it cut deep. Try as I might ‘The Bitch’ rattled around my psyche taunting me, tainting me. That is its purpose: To demean, to undermine, change my perception of myself, doubt my identity, my intentions, even my purpose.
Silly, you might think. Shrug it off. And you are right.
But it is easier said than done.
Look around you. So much of the anger and aggression we see stems from someone whose identity has been perverted, changed into something unpleasant, unwanted. Race is a good starting point. We call people names, we associate characteristics with people groups, the uglier the better: big nose, fat lips, slit eyes, the list is endless. The laughter that goes with these epithets is cruel and uncaring.
Experiential belief is entrenched and so much of the verbal abuse that manifests as insecurity in later life is handed out when we are children and have no yardstick by which to measure its veracity. We believe what we are told, it becomes a part of our persona.
How then do we deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous words?
Paul adjures in 2 Corinthians 10 v5:
“..Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into the captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
That’s a mouthful but it makes sense because as we take every thought captive unto Christ, His truth washes away the lies and replaces them with truth, His truth based in love and acceptance.
John 10 v 10: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Mathew 11 vv 28, 29: “Come unto Me all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
29. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
In the mighty book of Isaiah the voice of the Lord rings loud and clear, over and over again as He reaffirms His love and commitment to us:
Chapter 45 v 3: I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.”
Chapter 49 v 16: “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands…”
And Chapter 51 v 12: “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid….”
And so on and so on.
Until I curl my woundedness around the foot of the cross of Christ, and listen for that still small voice of comfort, I am at the mercy of darkness, a shallow man tossed to and fro in my unbelief!
It is only at the cross that I can begin to shed that putrid skin of shame and start believing that I am who I am and not who others say I am. I hear the Voice that whispers: ‘Dear Child, know who are, who you are in Me, yes, but far more importantly, know Whose you are!’
And slowly my head comes up, my eyes lighten as I grasp that eternal truth: I am my Father’s daughter, I am a child of the living Christ, and His banner over me is Love, the love that brought Him humbly to this earth as a man, One in whom no sin was found.
And a cry of worship is pulled out of me as I am filled with incomprehensible joy, and I am able to say: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know You!”
As we look to commemorate the birth of this man called Jesus, I pray we can look beyond the piles of shredded paper and carelessly tossed toys to the manger, to the One called Emmanuel, God with us, and allow Him to be the gift He came to be.
Wishing you all a peaceful and joyous Christmas.