“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
–Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
Why do you feel the need to leave every night? Why don’t you want to stay around and be with me? I remember asking my ex-husband these questions right before my little world was about to fall apart with the realization of my divorce. He had made a habit of leaving every night. I never knew where he was going, when he was coming back, or even IF he was coming back. Our chaotic life had become my new normal. His answer to me is one I will never forget. Even after all these years I can still see his face while saying these words, “ You don’t bring joy to anyone. I see no value in you, and no one does.” It was like being punched in the gut. It totally took the breath out of my lungs.
Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. How many times have we heard this saying?? How many times have we repeated it to ourselves between crying eyes and sobs?? Whoever wrote that must’ve had a complete disconnect with the real world. Words can really really hurt us. They have so much power in them. I mean, think about it?? Can you remember all the people who have told you how much you are loved within your life? I’m sure names and faces of parents, siblings, kids, grandparents, friends, and neighbors all pop up in your mind. But, do you think you could name them all? Probably not. There are so many to list. That’s a great thing! But, what if I asked you to think about the people who hurt you with their words. Maybe they told you they hated you, or insulted you. That list is probably much shorter. I know exactly who has wounded me over the years. It’s not like I’ve kept track of it, really! I’m totally in a place of forgiveness. But, if I think about who has hurt me with their words, the list is short, but the impact was astounding.
After my divorce, I felt like a huge “nothing.” I had been worn down to a tiny emotional stub. My ex-husband had many demons he fought, and at times I was the brunt of it. The words that my ex-husband would speak over me were like chains around my neck. Every jab was another link. The weight became almost unbearable. So much so, I remember physically walking like I was carrying invisible 200 extra pounds on my back. My head would hang down, and my shoulders would slump. I thought that my he didn’t want to be around me maybe because I wasn’t pretty enough, witty enough, attentive enough….well, I guess I thought he didn’t want to be around because I just wasn’t enough in general. As a wife, that can totally do a number on your head!
I remember once having a moment to myself, and reading my People magazine. Now, don’t go rolling your eyes. I know some of y’all like to read People. But, this particular one had an article about celebrity marriages that had failed. Many of them had failed because of adultery and betrayal. But, I distinctly remember looking at all of the wives who had husbands that strayed. Here they were. Beautiful. They were a size 2, and didn’t have a gray hair. If they had any wrinkles, I couldn’t see them. They were Hollywood glamor! Then, I thought, wait. These women had it all, and yet, they were still not immune to the “not being enough” feeling that I had, too.
Then, I had one of those “a-ha” moments. We aren’t created to be enough. We are not supposed to be enough. We aren’t meant to complete another person. That is Jesus’ job, not ours. My ex-husband had put me in the position to make him happy. He had made it my responsibility to make him feel certain ways. He had put his trust in an imperfect person….me. And, I had let him down because there is no way I could live up to that expectation. But, you know what? I had done the same thing. I had allowed for my situation to turn my eyes off of Jesus. I had allowed someone to speak lies to me, and I had become to believe them. I let myself find my self-worth in my ex-husband, but not my Creator. It was destroying me. None of it was working.
It took a long time for me to recover from that. Memories would just pop into my mind. Images would flash across my brain, and I would relive terrible moments. Every time the poisonous words would seep from my memory, I would literally have to pray them away. I had to make a habit of speaking words of truth over myself. I wasn’t going to allow Satan to rob me of my dignity. It just wasn’t me that was at stake, I also had 2 little children that needed me to be strong and healthy for them. After a while, I began to notice that I was able to stand a little taller. The links were slowly disappearing from my chain. I became free.
All of us have a choice of how we use our words. We can all be short sometimes, and say things we don’t mean..especially when we are going through a difficult time. However, we don’t ever want our words to permanently scar someone spirit.Many of us know what that feels like. We don’t want to repeat the cycle. We can either speak the love of Christ in truth to one another, or we can break someone’s spirit with our hateful speech and insults. Which one are you going to be?
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45