Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.
Or so the saying goes. I used to repeat that to myself. A lot. Especially during grade school, where kids can be very cruel to each other. But, deep down, I’ve always known better.
Words – from the right people and at the right times – have the power to heal, the power to reveal, and the power to destroy. If you spend ten minutes reflecting on this, you’ll soon discover moments in your life – defining moments – where someone said something to you that changed everything.
It might have only been a sentence or two. Most of the time, I think, the most powerful of words come in small, explosive packages. They seem innocent enough to outsiders, maybe even to the person speaking them. But, over time, they completely change your the way you see the world.
They turn teenage girls into anorexics. They create marital conflict that may never be fully resolved. They give children hope and self-esteem. They drive self-conscious middle schoolers into the shadows. They give addicts a reason to look for help.
For me, they opened up the endless possiblities of life in the kingdom of God.
I still remember being in New York about fifteen years ago. While vacationing there, I was meeting with a friend I had known in Austin while I was in law school. He was at seminary at the time – Princeton, I think. And just before he departed, he said this to me: “Think about this, Matt. Maybe God is more concerned about who we are than he is about what we do. Just take some time and think about it.”
He left. I haven’t spoken with him since. But what he said to me that day radically altered the way I would think about my faith journey for years to come. Suddenly, and slowly, things that I had always questioned began to make sense to me. And much of the direction of my spiritual journey over the last decade is owed to those few, simple words.
What are some of the powerful words that have affected you?