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Blog: Lee Younger

The Myth Of Sticks And Stones And A Remedy For The Hurt

CCC Oak Ridge

When we were little kids, all the grown-ups taught us to say this thing which they told us would protect us against the wiles of bullies and sharp-tongued kids on the playground. We memorized it so that we’d be ready to defend ourselves: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

What a load of crap.

It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now. I bet that if you wanted to, you could name every single truly hurtful thing your dad ever said to you. I bet you can remember every burn by a good friend or criticism by a powerful coach or teacher. Words hurt. They hurt big-time, and it’s stupid to pretend that they don’t. In fact, I’d rather you hit me with a stick than tell me I’m annoying or fat or just a loser. I mean, broken bones heal, but words hang around.

So, what are you supposed to do with all the accumulated hurt built up after harboring years of unkind words? I’ll tell you what I did: I found something more urgent to live for. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. The reason other people’s words hurt me so much is because I’m so personally invested in myself. There’s no two ways about it. I have a tendency to care a whole lot about what people think of me. Truth be told, I want people to think I’m awesome. I want them to think I’m the bomb. That’s just the truth of it. But something strange started to happen when I began to really live for what Jesus was calling me to do in His Kingdom. Namely, I didn’t have time to be so self-focussed.

Here’s a quick example: If I’m writing a song because I want people to think I’m the best songwriter around, then I’m going to be obsessed on how it’s received and I’ll see every negative comment or criticism as a personal attack. However, if I’m writing a worship song for brothers at the local jailhouse, I don’t have time to care about how cool this song makes me seem as a songwriter. The only thing that matters is, “Did the song help them connect with Jesus more?” Then, I can receive comments and criticism as a chance to make it better, and not a personal attack - and all that is because I’m not the point - the guys in the jail are the point.

Words hurt, and some of you have been taken down by meanness. I know it’s hard, but as soon as you get out and get into the life Jesus has for you, you will find a new obsession. You will love living for Him and His people so much that it won’t matter what people think of you. All you’ll care about is Him and His work.