Words are a big part of our lives. Words shape us. Words influence us. Words can wound us. And words can heal us.
The words we speak to others can impact them in big ways. When I have a close relationship with someone, the words they speak to me can influence me greatly. They can change the way I see the world, and they can often change the way I see myself. If you have ever had someone close to you speak loving words into your life, you know how lasting those words can be. And by the same token, negative words spoken in anger or out of criticism can ring in our ears and minds for years to come.
Do you remember as a child, hearing “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”? I do. I think that little rhyme was probably invented by a well-meaning parent that wanted to encourage their child, who was probably hurting from unkind words spoken to or about them. They were intended to help.
If only it were true.
But words do hurt. We often recall the hurtful words spoken to us much longer than we can kind words. In an article by Lindsey Horton regarding the science behind the effects of negative words, she said this: “…negative words, whether spoken, heard, or thought, not only cause situational stress, but also contribute to long-term anxiety”.
Sometimes those negative words come from the world. They are spoken to us through social media and more subtlety through tv ads and so on.
Sometimes those words repeat in our mind from the voices in our childhood, or sometimes they come back to us from a painful adult relationship.
And sometimes…they come from our own negative self-talk.
Stop right here and think of three words that you might use to describe yourself. (I’ll wait). I’m willing to bet that at least one or two of those words are negative in some way.
Here are some words that I know we often say about ourselves (as women), even if we don’t say them out loud, or to others. We say:
I’m not smart enough
I’m a failure
I’m sure there are others that you say about yourself, words I didn’t list here. Typically, we have no trouble finding grace and kind words to speak to others, but when it comes to ourselves, we aren’t usually as kind.
In a world full of criticism and negativity, it is important to be kind to one another. But I also believe that this kindness needs to start with how we speak to ourselves. Proverbs 4:23 says it this way: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. Guard your heart. Words matter. The words we speak to ourselves matter.
Since we are considering the impact of words, I think we should start with considering God’s word, the Bible.
Last week on the blog, I mentioned a few of the words that God says about us in scripture. I want to dive into this a little bit further, so I have decided to do a series here on the blog (something I haven’t done so far). I want to spend the next several weeks together, looking into the words that God says about us. Words that will help us reframe the negative words that we hear from the world or even in our own thoughts.
God says I am loved!
As human beings, this is the number one thing that we all desire to hear. “I love you’”
The enemy of our souls works diligently to fill our mind and heart with lies and thoughts that keep us far from God. And he chips away first, at the foundation of everything, love.
By far, the greatest human desire is for love. Oxford Dictionary defines love as “An intense feeling of deep affection”. We see this desire for love displayed everywhere in our culture. We seek to receive love from people. We start (and end) relationships searching for love, romantic relationships as well as relationships with friends. We even have children out of a desire for love.
As humans we desire to give love as well as to receive love. The idea of love is a driving force for all of humanity regardless of their geographical location, heritage, upbringing, race or gender. We all desire to be told that we are loved.
I desire to believe that I am who God says I am. And God says that I am loved by Him!
Look what Jeremiah 13:3 tells us. “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.”
This love of the Lord is everlasting, lasting forever, never changing, solid and sure.
1 John 4:19 says “We love, because He first loved us.” You and I possess the ability to love because He (God) loved us first! How did He love us?
Jesus, God’s own Son, is speaking in John 3:16 and He says it this way. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” The way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. And because the sin of man broke the world, the way that God designed it, He sent His own Son to make a way for us to know this love and to be with Him forever. John 15:13 tells us this truth “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
This fierce love was displayed in the ultimate act of love. God gave His Son, and He then, willingly laid down His life, so that your life and mine could be redeemed. There is no greater love than the sacrificial love that God showed to us.
So when the enemy starts to whisper in your ear that you are not loved or that you are not worthy of love (human love or God’s love), rest assured of the truth that you ARE indeed, loved greatly by the Lover Of Our Souls! He went to great lengths to show that love to us. Our part is to believe it. To let it settle down into our souls and fill us.
The greatest human need is to be loved. What an amazing thing to recognize that our greatest human need has been met in the powerful and mighty work of God!
If you are struggling with this truth today, then I believe it is no accident that you are reading these words. I believe that God sent you here today because He is speaking to you. He directed you here so that He could tell you what He knows you need to hear.
You are loved.
I hope that you’ll join me over the next few weeks, as we learn the words that God speaks about us in scripture. My desire is that you will allow these words to influence and define who you truly are, and how you see yourself. And that you will begin to replace the negative voice inside, that works to defeat you with the words of God.
Challenge: Use Google or your Bible app to search for scriptures that speak of God’s love for you. Write some of them down in a notebook. (The pretty kind that you will want to look at again and again!) And then choose one to commit to memory. This will help replace those negative things you hear. Words matter. What God says about you matters the most!
The world does not get the final say on your worth, value or loveable-ness. Only Jesus does!