We’ve all heard the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Some occurrences lately have brought to mind a personal experience that is an illustration of why that saying may sound good on the surface, but is certainly not true.
Today’s blog is a personal example, but one that I hope will help us all with our words in our relationships with others.
When I was a third grader (and that was a long time ago) I had a teacher that made some remarks that still linger to this day.
We were in music class, sitting in a circle, each with their own book. I don’t know what the song was, but I was totally clueless how to follow the score and keep up. Well, it must have been evident because the teacher stopped the class and made a total laughing stock out of me because I didn’t understand how to read that music book. (This of course has an ironic twist in that I have been involved in music all my life.)
This completely embarrassed me and from that day I had great disdain and no respect for that woman. I do not remember if I ever voiced this to anyone else, but that young heart was filled with contempt for the one that ridiculed my lack of understanding.
The school year progressed and I never felt any better about her. In fact, the emotions probably grew worse. Then one day she didn’t come to class. We waited for a long time and finally a substitute came in and we were told that our teacher had suffered a heart attack as she came on the campus and had passed away.
This certainly made me feel very sad and guilty that I had held such negative feelings for her over those months. Now she was gone and I felt very empty. I do hope that third grade teacher is in Heaven. I want to meet her and hug her neck. (Not wring her neck, but hug it!) I’m sure that she meant no ill will from her comments.
I suppose that is a trivial story of a young child’s selfish emotions, but I would just say, that has always been down deep in my heart. Sticks and stones? Yes, they can hurt; but the words we say can damage far beyond cuts and bruises.
We normally only hear the first line of this poem:
Sticks and Stones
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can also hurt me.
Stones and sticks break only skin, while words are ghosts that haunt me.
Slant and curved the word-swords fall, it pierces and sticks inside me.
Bats and bricks may ache through bones, but words can mortify me.
Pain from words has left its’ scar, on mind and ear that’s tender.
Cuts and bruises have not healed, its words that I remember.
Moms, dads, teachers and all of us…let’s stop and think before we speak. When the words cross our lips into the ears of those around, we cannot take them back. It’s better to swallow them before they are uttered than to be force fed them later.
The Bible says that it is better to keep our mouths shut and be thought wise instead of opening them and removing all doubt. (Proverbs 17:28)