Sticks and Stones

Psalm 56: 1 – 8
Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me; all day long they press their attack.
My slanderers pursue me all day long; many are attacking me in their pride.
When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
All day long they twist my words; they are always plotting to harm me.
They conspire, they lurk, and they watch my steps, eager to take my life.
On no account let them escape; in your anger, O God, bring down the nations.
Record my lament; put my tears in your wineskin – are they not in your record?

Papi and Barbie used to take karate classes. They both had a wonderful passion for the discipline of karate. Unfortunately, sometimes when they were practicing, and even now when they are just playing around,Papi forgets how much bigger and stronger he is than Barbie.  He will do some form of kick and actually bring her to tears. It isn’t intentional; he just forgets his own strength. He is immediately remorseful and lifting her up to check for bruises.

Quite some time ago, when my Barbie, BAM! and I were studying this passage, Barbie immediately came out with “Stick and Stones”. I’m sure you all know the old saying, but I’ll reiterate it in here just in case.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

That’s a nice sentiment, but oh, how untrue. The truth is that words HURT! Whether intentionally or not, they can cause lasting damage, affecting our lives and the lives of those around us. Other people’s words have driven people into depression and even suicide. I can’t help but think how bruised and broken people are because of others words.  We kick, whether playing or seriously, and it hurts!!!!  We quickly forget that words matter.  Especially in this day and age of social media and texting.

I am horrible at this.  I know I am horrible at this.  I feel like my words never come out the right way.  I mean them one way, and somehow the other person hears something totally different.  They “hit” back and I’m left reeling on the floor wondering what ever happened!  And don’t we do that with our words? We will say something small and casual and someone gets hurt. Or maybe we speak with a passion on a topic, and someone else believes we are condemning them. Or sometimes when we try to hold another believer accountable, we don’t do it in a loving way and they get hurt.

Growing up, I was the new kid.  I was ALWAYS the new kid.  And a police officers kid.  And incredibly naive.  I couldn’t have had a bigger target on my forehead if Nana had tattooed it there.  Sometimes the bullying would become physical, but mostly the bullying I received was through words.  People were mean and nasty….and their words hurt, very much.  I still hear those whispers in my head sometimes, the ones that say that I’m not good enough.  I’m not pretty enough.  I’m not rich enough.  I’m not smart enough.  I’m not cool enough.  I’m not enough.  I have to fight them.  Because I know that in God, I am enough…but some days, oh, some days.

But God holds the tears of those wounded in vases, He holds all of the tears I have cried in a vase, and on Judgment Day He will hold those that made us cry those tears accountable.  On the flip side of that, he will also hold us accountable for the vases of tears we have caused.  That slip of the word, that cut with the tongue, the ones where we walked away, not caring to see if the other person was bruised and broken.  Not caring to see if we’ve stripped their branches bare of leaves and left them exposed to the elements.

How many vases is God holding that are full of your tears? How many vases is He holding full of tears that you’ve caused others? As I still struggle with this, I pray for God to put His hand over my mouth. I pray, dear sisters and brothers, that you will pray the same.