Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. This may not be fashionable anymore. But this was the phrase that children were taught to combat school yard insults. The little phrase is true in the sense of physical cuts and bruises but a number of my personal cuts and bruises certainly started with words. A tussle with my brother or someone at school almost always started with a comment that one or the other of us took as an insult.

After trying to get us to use this phrase for a while, my parents finally bought my brother and I a punching bag with the instructions, “When you are mad at your brother go hit the bag”.

We all know that words can and do hurt. The reason is also clear when we take a minute to think about it. Words actually create things. Now before you stop reading let me explain. Before the insult there were no hurt feelings, therefore, the words created the hurt feelings. Words organize thoughts for action as well. A recipe is simply words on a page to organize concepts and ingredients into something that existed only in its component parts previously.

Organizations spend a great deal of time and money on vision and mission statements trying to create the inspiration that moves people and creates work. A dream or vision is the private property of the dreamer limited by their skills and creativity. But let it be expressed well and it can gather the talents and skills of a generation to land on the moon or fight the evils of racism. Words create things.

The Bible starts right there, with words in action. “Darkness prevailed over the deep and God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” Words create things.

We are surrounded by opinions right now that have created a time of unprecedented fear. Perhaps the most frightening thing is that the “experts” don’t agree. If they can’t agree on the danger how am I to respond. It’s like we are caught in a fire and people are fighting over where to find the exits. Their words create confusion.

This is not new. Voices that don’t agree with one another have been saying scary things since the snake told Eve that God was a liar. Those words created fear. Trusting them created death. Words create things.

So, what might we do? The “sticks and stones” advice was attempting to reshape reactions. To get a child to say the words that would slow or stop the hurt that was welling up inside of them. Parents knew that if a child could reframe the moment, they could change it. Because you see, their words could create a new thing.

Be aware of the reaction words are creating in you. Don’t partake of the words that cause unwarranted fear or frustration. Be aware of the words you share with yourself. We repeat truth and lies to ourselves that create heart ache. Choose the thoughts that bring a smile or make you feel joy. This is a hard practice. But some of the words you replay in your head have been creating problems long enough. It’s time to listen to a different voice, to dance to a different tune. Because your words create things.

Wishing You Only Blessings

Walt