“I’m rubber and you're glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.”
As much as this statement might have seemed like truth at age seven at age twenty-seven I know it to be anything but. Words have the power to shape us; the good and the bad, what we say matters. The thing is, that we cannot always see the effect of our words until much later, thus it is hard to keep in mind the power that they hold.
All of our childhood quick retorts were just that, they were away of devaluing the words that were being said so that we could survive another recess. Everyone knows that words can hurt far more than sticks and stones. These famous comebacks have become ingrained in our culture because we like the idea that we cannot be affected by the cruel words spoken to us.
I cannot as an adult continue on in this fantasy, I know that words have power, that they have changed the world, and thus can and have impacted me. Some much more blatantly than others, but every word spoken or not has the potential to change something, and thus perhaps we ought to be more aware of our own ability to alter the world.
For me I know that the negative words of others have stuck to me like glue, never once have they just bounced off and stuck to the person who spoke them, thought sadly I knot that my sarcastic comebacks have in fact leapt back to stick to the one who attacked me. I use the word attacked because really that is what those words were, whether intentional or not, they were an assault on my person. My response was thus an evasive maneuver to protect my ego.
Our egos are sensitive, and they like to be protected, it does not take much to bruise them. In order to survive we seem to have adopted the belief that it is okay to put others down in order to shy away from our own inadequacies real or imagined. I am guilty of this, and even though I know it, stopping this learned behavior seems next to impossible, anything to protect my own ego right? At what cost though? It seems that we are caught in a cycle of degrading one another in order to protect our own self.
I want to step out of this cycle, yet the risk of being torn to pieces by the words of others, to allow ego to be beat up and bruised, is not appealing. It is a call to humility right? To say that, I am not going to join in the self preserving war of words. That I am going to put my own pride aside in the hope of helping build yours up?
Choosing to play the game differently, means that I need to choose my words wisely. I must build up others instead of tearing them down. This is not to say that I should allow others to walk over me, but it means that I must put others best interest at the forefront of my thoughts. This doesn’t mean lying to make people feel better about themselves or the world, but it means speaking truth into the situation. There is no guarantee that my words will have the impact that I desire, as I can only be responsible for what I say and not what others hear, but if my words are kind and true then perhaps I can help put an end to the cycle of dehumanization that we seem to be stuck in. If that is all the impact my words have from this point out, to stop the continual degrading that we seem to perpetuate than that would be enough.
Words are powerful and thus should be handled with care. I want to get out of the habit of protecting my ego instead of yours. Some of the sing song phrases of our youth were true, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Perhaps some of the best and yet most disregarded advice we were ever given.
In his book, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, Shane Hipps says, “In Christ, God’s medium and message are perfectly united. As the opening of John’s Gospel tells us, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (1:14) More than just words the words He said, the life of Jesus was the revealed Word of God. After Jesus died and ascended into heaven, God found a way to ensure the divine presence would remain active on earth, creating the mysterious medium of the church-the body of Christ.” Thus as a part of the body of Christ I have the awesome responsibility to God, as part of His chosen medium of His message to put even more value on my words. As someone who has chosen to identify with Christ, my words are no longer mine, and neither is my ego.
I should be able to rest assured that my God who has filled me with His presence who has called my body His temple, the place in which He desires to dwell will protect me. He who was willing to humble Himself and become the Word for me deserves nothing less than my humility so that He can continually be the Word through me.