When Words Wound

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Words can hurt. Thank God (literally) they can also help. If you, or someone you love, has ever been hurt by the words (or actions) of another then today’s post is for you. Contributor Dana Boyd shares words that heal. Friends…you will be blessed. 🙂

Dana Boyd 1

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

I was in first grade when I summoned that little gem to my defense. I can still remember how the desks were arranged in the classroom where I put on my brave face, looked my antagonizer in the eye…and lied through my teeth.

Words can hurt, can’t they? No matter what age we are.

As parents, we worry about mean girls, schoolyard bullies and cyber bullying. Life has taught us, our kids will face some level of harassment, at some point, from someone. It’s unavoidable. So what do we do when it happens?

We’ve had a few broken hearts in our house. And when my mama eyes spot those tear-stained cheeks, oh my heart…all I want to do is make it better!

But I’ve learned, I can’t erase their pain. So instead of doing what I want to do, I have started doing what they need me to do.

I have simply started to let them feel.

I close my lips.

Open my ears.

Sit with them.

Let them vent (or be silent).

Let their tears flow.

Hug, as needed.

And for one of my kids, in particular, I affirm their feelings.

Those words hurt. Your heart aches. It’s okay to feel what you feel. It is okay to be sad. It’s okay to experience the grief or embarrassment or anger they are causing you.

Because some of our personalities need permission, am I right?

Friends, this is so important. When we give our kids room and permission to process their feelings, and we show our support as they do…it builds trust. It strengthens their relationship with us. It helps them understand that we are on their side. And it teaches them how to work through their emotions in a healthy way.

Eventually, they calm. And then we move forward.

We transition from focusing on how they feel, to encouraging them to think.

To refocus their minds…away from themselves…toward the one who hurt them.

Hurting people, hurt people.

Through gentle conversation, that concept is introduced. And we begin to consider the why behind the what. Why do you think that person was so hurtful? Do you think they are just plain mean? Or could there be more to their story?

Could they be lonely? Neglected? Sad? Scared? Could they be dealing with divorce or death or illness or poverty? Do you think they have any real friends? Could they feel unloved?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:

We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in light of what they suffer.

What a powerful viewpoint! And when we present that perspective to a child’s hurting heart…something starts to happen, my friends. Something trans-formative.

Our kids, as young as they might be, they begin to glimpse beyond their own hurt. To realize that everyone has a story. That the one who caused them pain, may have been acting out of their own pain.

And they start to understand that——–

We don’t have to know someone’s story to consider their soul.

And when this starts to happen, it is time to push our kids to act.

While the hurt is still raw, they need to pray. I haven’t always been good about capturing this opportunity. And my kids sometimes resist. But I have come to believe it is oh, so essential.

God knows how they’re feeling, but He wants them to take it to Him. They need me to tell them…to demonstrate for them…that they can be gut-wrenchingly honest with God:

God, I don’t like him/her. I do not want to pray for him/her right now. I am mad and sad. Please help my hurt and anger. I know You told me to pray for my enemies. And I know maybe he/she is hurting too. Please help their hurt. And help me see them the way You do. I can’t do it without You.

Humility and healing…hand in hand.

I have seen anger melt from my children’s expressions. I have watched their shoulders straighten as they shed the weight of their own pain. I have witnessed the shadows fall from their faces as their view of themselves is restored…and their view of the offender is transformed.

Words that once shackled their little spirits become powerless to hold them prisoner any longer. Their hearts are set free—free to step away from hurt and anger—free to heal and to forgive.

What a gift to give our children!

Ahhh, friends. Let me tell you. This process—this whole feel, think, act approach—it is no joke. It is a discipline that can profoundly impact how our kids cope with all of life’s insults. One that will shape how they look at other people in every situation in life.

And you and I—we both know this is not just for our children.

This is for every DoAhead out there.

So let’s prepare our own hearts to respond…before the world starts throwing its stick and stones.

Your DoAhead Friend Dana,

About Dana Boyd

Dana is a lifelong lover of words with a passion for sharing stories of the heart—both her own and others. Her writings draw from her experiences as a woman, a writer, a wife, a mother of three, and a Bible-believing Jesus follower. She is a defender of truth, an avid proponent of common sense and a recovering (often relapsing) perfectionist still learning to lean in to grace. Her writing is an honest outpouring of her introverted heart, driven by a longing to inspire others to feel deeply, think critically and act compassionately. Dana shares her words as a monthly contributor at DoAhead Woman.

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