Your world was created by the power of words.
You’ve had people who spoke life-giving words to you, who helped you believe in God, in yourself, in the possibility of change. Those words built you up and created the positive things you appreciate about your life today.
You’ve also probably had some words spoken to you that felt like death and have stayed with you ever since. I asked my Facebook friends to give examples of words that were tattooed on their souls and shaped their lives in a negative way. Within minutes I received responses like, “No one will ever want to be with you,” “You’re damaged goods,” “You are irresponsible,” “You’re just not smart enough,” “I wish you were never born,” “I’m just not attracted to you anymore,” “You lost the game for us tonight,” and “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”
Matthew Lieberman, a neuroscientist, noticed we tend to use the language of physical pain to talk about relational pain. We say things like, “She broke my heart,” “He hurt my feelings,” and “Those words were a punch in the gut.” Lieberman decided to study the difference in the brain when we experience physical pain versus relational pain. His conclusion? In his book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, Lieberman wrote, “Looking at the brain scans side by side, without knowing which was an analysis of physical pain and which was an analysis of social pain, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.”
Remember that old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? It’s not true. Emotional pain is just as real and just as painful as physical pain.
It reminds me of when I came back from a visit to the eye doctor and walked into my third grade classroom wearing glasses for the ﬁrst time. These glasses were ridiculous. They were like two steering wheels sitting on either side of my nose. All I could think was how well they went with my buckteeth and big ears.
When I walked into class, some kids started laughing, and then chanting, “Nerd alert! Nerd alert!” I wanted to hide.
Then my teacher, Miss Ziese, called me to the front of class. We all liked Miss Ziese. She was right out of college, and we thought she was pretty. Miss Ziese said, “I see you have new glasses.”
I thought it was awesome she pointed it out, just in case anyone hadn’t noticed and had missed the chance to mock me. She said, “You know, you looked like someone to me when you walked in. I think you look like Clark Kent.” (For the superhero impaired, Clark Kent is the alter ego of Superman.)
My whole demeanor changed. I was thinking I looked like Sally Jessy Raphael, but I now knew I looked like Clark Kent. (For the 1980s talk show host impaired, google Sally Jessy Raphael.)
Our worlds are created by the words spoken to us, and with our words we create the world around us. We have the power to speak life or death. We need to be like Jesus and speak words of life.
Kyle Idleman joins Randy and Sheila this Monday on LIFE TODAY. Taken from One At A Time by Kyle Idleman. Copyright ©2022 by Kyle Idleman. Published by BakerBooks, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission.