There is a famous saying that says –
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
I just want to say right up front that the person who wrote that was either a complete and total idiot or had never experienced life. (Or maybe both.) I believe that words will hurt me; but I have to learn to understand what that particular person, who said something cruel, is going through, and I have to learn to forgive them and grant them grace. Forgiving that person doesn’t mean I have to continue being their victim. No, on the contrary, it means giving their mean words to God and letting go of my hurt.
Take my fifth grade year for example. My best friend suddenly turned on me, and would cut me down every chance she got; saying things like “pink and blue don’t go together, so why are you wearing them?” or “you are so weird!” or “Oh… my… gosh, what’s wrong with you?” and “Me? I didn’t do anything, you’re such a baby!” I would come home crying almost every night. Despite those hurtful comments, I was able to forgive her, because I knew what she was going through and I gave my hurt to God. Her mom was dying, and to deal with her hurt, she lashed out at me. We aren’t best friends anymore, but I still went to her mom’s funeral and care for her.
Another example is using the word hate frequently. If someone says they hate another, they are saying they loathe the person with every ounce of their soul. School shootings, robbery, murder, suicide or depression are some things that can occur, along with less life-threatening, but still painful, feelings. Because I know this, I barely use the word hate anymore. It can be hard to forgive someone who says this, but just remember, we are masterpieces, hand creations, symphonies of our creator. We truly are fearfully and wonderfully made.
My mom has helped me learn this. She has been there for me, even in the toughest circumstances. She has cried with me, prayed with me and helped me on my journey into becoming a woman of forgiveness.
Over the course of my life so far, I’ve been tricked into believing lies about myself, cut down by thoughtless comments and been gossiped about, but through it all, I have learned to forgive. I am not who the world says I am, I am who God says I am. Letting go of my hurt is hard, and sometimes I may hang onto it for a while because I’m afraid of how I will feel. I still have trouble letting go. But once I give my pain to God, peace will come.
I believe that sticks and stones might break my bones, depending on how hard they are thrown, but words will hurt me. It just depends on how I deal with them: in forgiveness or anger.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.