Words have power.
Whoever said that sticks and stones may break their bones but words will never hurt them is a liar. Words can hurt. A lot. Ask the woman who hears, “You have breast cancer.” The man who hears, “I want a divorce.” The parents who hear, “There’s no heartbeat.”
Once they’re said, you can’t take them back. It’s like lotion you can’t get back into the tube…it’ll never be the same. Words forever alter the ears that hear them.
My husband and I were leaving Kohl’s the other night when a conversation between a mother and her 5-or 6-year old son stopped me in my tracks:
“Mommy, I’m hungry.”
“Again? You just had dinner. You’re gonna be fat. You can’t be cute if you’re fat.”
I turned around to watch it unfold.
“Nevermind,” he said, looking at the floor. “I’ll just wait until tomorrow.”
I stood rooted to where I was, my blood boiling. I’d had similar conversations before, except I was the little boy and other people were the mother.
I’ve never been a super skinny girl. My younger brother called me “Tank” in sixth grade. He was joking, of course, but words have power.
In college, when I was at my skinniest, my boyfriend would squeeze any excess abdomen as we hugged. “Might wanna work on that,” he’d whisper in my ear. Words have power.
Soon after, and still skinny, I met a new man. When we married two years later, I’d experienced the stress of graduating from college and filling my body with Chipotle every night. I gained a lot of weight and had to have extra loops added to my corset-back dress. Two babies and no real weight loss later, he still tells me I’m beautiful. Words have power.
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21
This mama’s tongue will speak life over her son. Before anyone protests, I’m well aware the world isn’t all glitter and unicorns. I’m not advocating a life of everyone getting what they want and no one finishing last. But can’t we at least make an effort to give our children some sort of confidence?
There’s plenty of negativity in this world, and I know AJ will encounter his share of it. My job is to build him up to look that negativity square in the eye and not be afraid. In a nod to the “You is kind” mantra from “The Help,” every morning when he wakes up and every night before bed, we play a game. It involves me pushing on his little nose with every “You are!” He just giggles like crazy and has no clue what it means now. But he will.
Who is kind? You are!
Who is smart? You are!
Who can do hard things? You can!
Who’s positive and hardworking? You are!
Who’s blessed and highly favored? You are!
Who’s a world changer? You are!
Let’s speak life into our children–At home, at school, on the soccer field. Life will try to beat them down more times than we can ever imagine. They’ll need a foundation on which to stand, and your words give power.