But words will break my heart (a bit more honest, no?). I wonder at what age we realize that the schoolyard taunt is completely wrong. I was a sensitive child (now a sensitive adult), so I'm sure I shed my fair share of tears over hurt feelings in elementary school. But it wasn't until 6th grade that I realized just how deeply words can cut. That particular offense isn't important, but for years afterward I could hear the hurtful words in my head every time I looked in the mirror. Even now, some eighteen years later, I remember the sting.
There's a lot written about our "inner critic," that voice that constantly criticizes us (especially women, it seems) and tells us we're not good enough. In my case, though, my inner critic doesn't make things up, it takes things that have actually been said to me or about me and taunts me with them endlessly. I would give just about anything to erase the memories of harsh words, or at least erase the scars they cause. But I know that I, too, have probably caused my own fair share of pain. I can be sharp-tongued, and I was quite the smart-ass when I was younger. If the words I mutter in secret (like my car) were ever made public, I would be mortified...and most people would be shocked.
Unfortunately, no matter how many complimentary or encouraging things are said to us, we remember the insults more. They stick with us seemingly forever, voicing themselves in vulnerable moments, whenever we most need to hear just the opposite. Also unfortunately, our capacity to hurt and be hurt by words doesn't end when we graduate from high school. In a weak (and supremely foolish and stupid) moment, I recently attempted to make peace with someone who hurt me. The response I received was dismissive, contemptuous, and almost hateful. It left me feeling worthless. Unlike a flesh wound, it won't just heal over in a few days. It's going to stick with me for a long time. I would've preferred being ignored.
God is concerned with our tongues--out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Who we are is revealed by what we say. And words are powerful--powerful to heal and powerful to destroy.
Thankfully, God doesn't believe I'm worthless. Instead, He thinks I'm worth dying for. My Creator, King and Savior has adopted me into His family, calls me His beautiful daughter, and loves me more than I can ever possibly believe. I have His inheritance and His presence forevermore. He knows everything about me; I am precious to Him. He knit me together in my mother's womb. He counts the hairs on my head. His is a tender, passionate, jealous, gentle, powerful love. A love that delights in me, quiets my restless heart and rejoices over me with singing. A love that conquers all, even my deepest wounds.