Sticks and stones

“Keep in mind the person that came up with the old adage, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ was obviously deaf.”
Annonymous

“Detraction is a kind of murder. . .the detractor, by a single stroke of his tongue, ordinarily commits three murders: he kills his own soul and that of him who listens to him by a spiritual murder, and he takes away the social life of him who he defames”
St Francis de Sales

DSC00755
(the emerging blooms from the apple “sticks” we planted last week / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC00751
(an emerging rock wall in a soon to be yard / Julie Cook / 2015)

Throw rocks at me,
beat me with a stick. . .
I may or may not recover from the physical wounds–
depending on how hard I get hit. . .
but I can take a liken and eventually get kickin.
An assault by words, however, well that’s a different matter entirely.
Wounds inflicted by words have a tendency to fester and linger.

During the course of a lifetime,
hands that are used daily, over and over, build callouses.
Hard layers of skin that are tough and
no longer prone to blistering or tearing.

Our feelings, which are more like smooth skin, particularly when we are young, are often most tender.
Any preteen kid can testify to the hurtfulness of words,
As children are often most cruel and unabashedly honest.
It usually takes a lifetime of living in order to build a thick skin,
The calluses of the psyche. . .the ability to repel verbal malice
without the penetrating harmful blistering or tearing.

Years ago, when I was heading off to college, my godmother gave me a tiny little book,
which addressed a rather bigger subject. . .
The Taming of the Tongue by Elaine Murray Stone– first published in 1954.

During my youth I was, for good or bad, prone to the “exuberance of the mouth”. . .
I had a quick temper, often opinionated and possessed an unfiltered mouth,
often speaking what came to mind without first pondering “to speak or not to speak”
plus I’ve always been blatantly honest
coupled with being very passionate. . .
Not always the best of combinations.
I’ve also always had a strong need to communicate what was on my heart
hummmmm. . .

At the time, I had expressed a nagging frustration with having a bit of a sailors mouth, especially when I’d get mad. So my godmother, who was the wife of the Episcopal dean of the church we attended, no doubt had her own worries about my venturing off to the slippery slope of college and lovingly gave me the tiny book—a bit of food for the soul as a part of my send off.

There are days that we are all tested and tried.
Our buttons are pushed and we feel the immediate reflex to push back.
Yet the older we become, however, our skin does indeed thicken, providing a bit of human kevlar,
providing protection from errant hurtful words.
The counter to that thickness however is that with thicker skin, comes a tongue and wit that is often
fine tuned, shaper and smarter than it was in our youth.
We tend to be able to jab and parle much faster,
making the jabs more venomous and painful.

And so it is, as I am finding myself navigating some rather rough waters theses days,
traversing a minefield of malice, animosity, control and misplaced anger. . .
I find myself asking God to temper my reactions and emotions.
That He may grant me wisdom in choosing my words, knowing when and how to use them while adding additional coatings to my kevlar skin. . .
such that the misdirected hurtful angry words hurled in my direction will simply bounce off as I counter with His words of Grace. . .

Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:13-15

2 comments on “Sticks and stones

  1. Lynda says:

    Julie, such incredible advice. Words can hurt deeply and forever. I pray that things will slow down a bit for you and that you will have the opportunity to rest in the arms of God during these last couple of weeks of Lent. Blessings and prayers.

  2. You know the more we converse back and forth and read each other’s blogs and make comments on them, the more I find that we are very much a like. You described a young Natalie in college so very well and such qualities went on with me as I entered the work force. So I often have to guard my tongue
    as well. As I’ve aged it has become somewhat easier to do so, and I’ve learned that words spoken in anger can leave lasting scars. These are lessons that the Lord is teaching us so that we can rise higher and be more skilled in bringing glory to Him. You, though younger than I, have a much better grasp of this already, and are doing spendidly well. We all can lose our composure when dealing with irrational and unyielding individuals, but at least now you and I know to ask the Lord to guard our tongues. As with anything else the skills take time to be perfected. So don’t be too hard on yourself. You are a PEACH in
    every sense of the word, my friend. Love you, N 🙂 ❤

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