Do you remember the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”? I think it was something I was taught as a kid. Well, it’s a lie.
Words do hurt and sometimes words actually destroy. We can all testify to this reality in our own lives as we have been both the recipient of hurtful words and dished some out to others. Oftentimes some of our deepest wounds have been created by a verbal assault. The story of Phoebe Prince, a high school student in Massachusetts, who recently killed herself because of incessant bullying at school, is shocking and cruel. Lies were spread about her and she was bombarded with the label of “slut”, “whore” and others. It eventually became too much to bear for this young girl. Words can destroy.
I assume most of us have matured right past name-calling and right into the more prominent adult world of acceptable gossip. We simply pass on information that is not ours to share with a quiet sense of entitlement. Gossip and the sharing of information has become so mainstay that TV networks build entire shows off it, magazines are littered with it, and prayer requests are shared with it. Somehow we think that gossip is OK to share about a celebrity because they are a celebrity. In fact, most of us probably don’t even think about it at all. Did you hear about Jesse James and Sandra Bullock? Did he cheat? Why is he in rehab? What really happened in Tiger’s driveway? Who is the next mistress to step forward? The real question is why is that any of your (or my) business? These are real people with real lives who are just as wounded by gossip and slander as you and I.
Our propensity for gossip certainly doesn’t stop with celebrities; it permeates our lives as well. Religious people share personal information about another as a prayer request with no consideration of whose information it is to share. Sometimes we simply fill the void of our conversations with information about other people rather than walking in the vulnerability of sharing our own lives. The social network scene of Facebook and Twitter only serve as instant vehicles for us to get information, share information and continue to feed the idol of information that so many of us bow down to.
Check your heart here. Why do you share what you share? Is it yours to share? Why do you feel a need to share it or listen to it? What is lacking in your own life that you have to fill it up with the news about another? Here’s an idea: shhhhh. Listen to your heart and find out why you crave to be in the know. Listen for why you have to be the first to share something. Do you feel more powerful? Why do you need to feel this way? What’s broken and lacking in you? Maybe you lack the courage to tell someone to stop sharing something you know you don’t need to be privy to. Maybe you lack the courage to share your own heart…about yourself.
It would do us some good to consider our words. They are powerful to bless and curse. They can build or destroy. They are viral and hard to get back, so listen more than you talk and feel empowered to not share what is not yours.