Sticks and stones

Something terrible had just happened.  It was in a note that a “friend” passed along to me from another “friend”. In the note, was written a word. A word I'd never seen before. My instinct also told me it was a name. A bad name. This friend had just called me a name.

Whoever came up with the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was a liar. Even though I wasn’t familiar with the word, I knew it was meant to hurt me. And that word was a stone.

That happened when I was in the seventh grade and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the beginning of a career of bullying from this so-called friend and it lasted throughout all my following school years until I graduated high school. I cringe even now as I type this. 

The girl who bullied me, stalked me, harassed me, and called me names, made my life miserable by casting stones my way. I’m not writing this to make you feel sorry for me. I’m writing this because it has made me aware of how words are stones. And yes,we throw stones even today.

In today’s heated political climate, I try wholeheartedly to navigate the parade of information with an even temperament. Yet, I find myself throwing stones. I keep my opinions close to myself but if I’m honest, I can easily take on the form of a bully when I see things that frustrate me. 

In the Bible, it’s called righteous indignation when it’s an injustice we stand against. But I know the difference when it turns into something else. When it turns into judgement and a critical spirit, it’s called bullying.

How does this happen? How is it that we are compelled to speak louder and bolder to claim that our way of thinking is the right way, the only way? And when the smoke clears, we quietly resign ourselves to a sad state where convictions become more important than relationships. I’ve observed friends ending rich, longtime relationships and families snubbing each other in the name of belief systems. People are hurting each other and it’s disturbing. Stones are being thrown.

Stones are mentioned throughout Scripture. They are used to build, as a display of remembrance, and even to harm. The same is true today. Stones build foundations, we write encouraging words on them, and yes, we throw them.

It makes me wonder. What kind of stone am I holding in my hand? Can I even pause to look? Is it a stone that will build? Or is it a stone that will tear someone down? 
Chipped stone
The photo of this stone is intriguing to me. I found it stuck among pieces of gravel.  It’s intriguing for a few reasons. For one thing, it’s much larger than the pebbles that surround it, illustrating a simple message that our hearts need to be big during these distressing times.

Secondly, while it’s obvious that it’s a heart shape, it’s easy to see that the shape was formed because a piece was broken off it.

What if we all took a piece of our heart and shared it with the desire to build rather than throw it with the intention to harm?

What if I led with a piece of my heart rather than a piece of my mind?

My prayer is this…. Lord, help me to remember the shape of my stone. Let it be in the shape of love, not hate. Help me to remember to love first. Chip away at my heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 ESV

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 ESV
 
Blessings and joy,
- Re -

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