“...but words will never hurt me.” Really?
How does God want us to respond when people ridicule us and call us names?
All of these names I have become familiar with throughout the years, for I have heard them used in place of my name on several occasions. However, none of these names are actually on my birth certificate. The last time I checked, the name on my license was not Miss Faith Bossy Prude Siler. These names do not give me my identity.
We’ve all heard it said that ‘sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you’. At first glance, this seems absolutely insane because, of course words hurt us. Words have so much power to either build us up or tear us down. But, if we take a step back, we can see it's possible to have control over how we allow the words and actions of others to affect us. We may not be able to control what others say and do to us, but we sure do have the ability, as well as a responsibility, to honor God with our response to others. This is especially true of those who speak ill of us or put us down in some way, shape, or form. It is no easy task, but can only be done with God’s grace and strength.
Who are you listening to?
Growing up, I was always picked on for something:
- If it wasn’t my Christian faith one week it would be the way that I talked the next week.
- If it wasn’t the way that I talked it would be the way that I dressed.
- My teen years were filled with constant ridicule from others, especially when I took a stance for sexual purity and made a commitment that was symbolized by a purity ring on my left ring finger at the age of 12.
But, you know what? Despite what people may say about you behind your back or how they may treat you, your worth and identity are never in question because He who defines you never changes His mind about you. In fact, His thoughts about you outnumber the grains of sand! (Psalm 139:17).
It can be so easy to get caught up in wanting to seek revenge on those who have hurt us or attempted to destroy our reputation in some way. However, it is key to remember that God is the only One who should be avenging wrongs (Romans 12:19). Seeking revenge never makes anyone feel good about themselves long-term, rather it will end up destroying YOU and impact your relationship with Christ.
Want to know how you can bless those who may curse you? Keep reading!
3 keys to blessing your enemies
1. Even your enemies need God's love
First, it is crucial to recognize that people do not just start bullying others for no reason, although it may seem like that at times. The reality is, people have issues that they carry with them:
- That girl who always makes fun of you for making a commitment to purity … maybe she wishes she had made the same commitment before she became sexually active and found out it was not as fulfilling as she thought it would be.
- Or, that guy who tears you down for your looks … maybe he feels deeply insecure about his own looks.
Just because people appear to be perfect on the outside does not, by any means, reflect what is going on on the inside. If you can grasp this concept, maybe it might be easier to see them as flawed beings in need of God’s love.
2. Don't treat people the same way they treat you (Rom 12:17).
When I was in middle school, there were three girls at my church who picked on me constantly. I mean every single Sunday I could always expect there to be some comment made about my outfit or my response to a question in Sunday school. Yes, it hurt to be picked on but, with God’s help, I can honestly say I cannot recall a time where I ever sought revenge. Because of this, two of the girls actually became good acquaintances of mine and, to this day, continue to be. The point is, you never know how God is going to work in other people’s lives. He has the tremendous power to change them. This is why it is so important to treat them with kindness regardless of how they treat you. You never know who God is going to put in your path down the road. They may need you one day.
3. Pray and forgive
This is such a hard thing to do, but is so necessary for your health - emotionally, spiritually, AND physically. One of the hardest people for me to forgive was a young man who I grew up in church with and dated in high school. He stopped talking to me because of my commitment to purity and, honestly, hurt me more than anyone else with his words and actions. But, you know what? I can truthfully say that I forgive him. It has been a long process, but God has shown me that carrying the hurt and pain around only sabotages my future, and not others. God has helped me realize that forgiveness is the means by which one can find and enjoy true freedom.
How will you respond?
We alone have the power to control how we react to how others treat us. How we handle these types of situations tells a lot about who we are and WHOSE we are. There is a fine line between standing up for yourself and acting out of aggression. Standing up for yourself is important and should be done in a loving manner. Confrontation looks different for different people, but the main thing is to do so in a way in which brings glory to God and His name. People are always observing us and making judgments about Him because of what they see in us. You have the choice to be the one who fights back and seeks revenge or to be the young man or woman who seeks peace and pursues it.
NOTE: If you, or someone you know is being abused emotionally, physically, or mentally, someone should be notified immediately. If this occurring, you need to see a school counselor, a principal, trusted youth leader etc. because that type of abusive behavior is unacceptable and needs to be confronted.