Last week a dear friend of mine, left me a voice message. Listening to it, I knew she had been crying. She sounded so sad and broken and the exact words she said as she sobbed were – ‘he is trying to destroy me’.
Can someone’s words destroy you?
Proverbs 11:9 – The loose tongue of the godless spreads destruction…
Proverbs 12: 18 – Rash language cuts and maims…
So it is true that words can destroy.
One of the cold winter days here, when we were out, my daughter was jumping, running and being her usual self, regardless of the cold. I went up to her and gave her a hug telling her I felt cold and needed some warmth. And then decided to turn it into a play moment by telling her ‘I have taken all your warm and given you all my cold’. She ran after me laughing and giggling and gave me back a hug and said ‘Mama, Now I have taken back my warm and returned your cold back’ and went running away as I chased after her to give her another hug. It was fun for her for about 2 or 3 times as she screamed and laughed but after that, she began to get worried. After about the third time, she had tears in her eyes as she went up to my husband and said ‘Mama took all my warm and gave me her cold and now I feel cold’ !! When I saw it wasn’t fun for her anymore, I came back to her and gave her a hug and explained to her how hugs cannot give you someone’s cold and how hugs only gave more warmth to both the people. It’s become like a game now which she plays every now and then, only that it doesn’t affect her anymore, when I hug her telling her I’ve taken her warmth and given her my cold.
Know the truth!
What someone says is a reflection of them. Not you. It does hurt. It does sting. But honestly, believing it or getting affected by it, is the same as my five year old getting affected by me saying my hug could take away her warm.
Knowing the truth is the first step. Destroying words spoken by you, is you. Destroying words spoken by someone else is not you, it’s the other person. How you react to that, however, is you.
Being human, it’s hard not to get hurt by stinging words. But some tips that help are:
1. 1. Pause. Pause when you feel attacked and want to give back a stinging reply. Pause till you are calm. It is important to stand up for yourself. But do that in an assertive way. Being assertive does NOT involve using stinging words.
2. 2. Practise. Step one is knowing the truth, Step two is practising it. It is hard work practising it. But keep on keeping on. Tell yourself again and again these words are not me. How I react to this, is me. Practise your reaction. And the more you practise, the stronger you get and eventually, you reach a point where you can respond to an attack, without needing a pause.
3. 3 Step back. Sometimes stepping back is stepping forward. Step back if you need to. Stinging words are a form of verbal abuse. Know when to fight and when to walk away.
4. 4. Run to God. This should actually be your step one. The above mentioned steps will not be possible without God. Run to God for strength, help, wisdom and courage.
Be someone who builds people up. Make sure that everyone who comes in contact with you leaves feeling encouraged and stronger and closer to God. Be a builder.
Proverbs 12:18 Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise.