The Power of Words
Written by Claire Colvin
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words . . . can wound forever.
Pictures of me as a little kid are really cute –– curly blond hair, a quick smile and eyes always looking for the next adventure. I had the confidence that comes from knowing you are truly loved. If we painted pictures at school, I painted three. I had a storybook childhood and it showed. But I didn’t stay that way.
Around grade six I became the kid everyone picked on. Maybe I didn’t wear the right clothes, maybe kids are just mean sometimes, for whatever reason it started and it kept going. By high school there was a group of four or five guys who told me I was stupid and ugly every single day. I believed them.
It is amazing what you accept as truth when you hear it enough times. As my confidence faltered and my self esteem withered away I stopped talking in class, in groups, or in the hallways. I dreaded lunch hour, never stepped foot inside the cafeteria and the thought of class presentations literally made me sick. I stopped smiling altogether. They tell me I went a whole year and never smiled once.
My whole life revolved around being as invisible as possible.
I thought that I couldn’t get hurt if everyone forgot I was there. I was too afraid to talk to my parents about it, even though we were close. I was convinced that there was no way out — you have to go to school. (Years later I learned that if I had told them what was going on there were a dozen other options for school.) I was so afraid, so hurt, so confused and so lonely that I began planning my suicide. I chose a method and was working out the details when I had a dream that saved my life.
I don’t know if you believe in God, but I had this dream that I cannot explain any other way. I had decided on the mechanics of how I was going to do it. In the dream it was like someone had taken the roof off of the house and I was looking down on it from above. I could see myself in one room and what I had done. At the same time I could see my Mom, standing on the other side of the locked door pounding on it, weeping. In the dream I started to talk, to bargain, and this other voice said simply “It’s too late.” Melodramatic, maybe, but I have never had a dream like that again. And today, some 20 years later, I could draw you a picture of exactly what that dream scene looked like. I cannot forget it.
Suicide is something that you can’t take back.
I’ve heard people say that suicide is a cowardly, selfish choice. That’s not true. The best explanation I’ve ever heard is this: Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain. (Source) Now I can see that there were other options, but back then the pain was so great it blocked out everything else – even the people who loved me. I had not yet arrived at a place where I ran out of resources and I was able to choose differently. I know that’s not always the case and I am grateful that I got a second chance.
Back at school, things did not improve. Halfway through grade eleven I transferred to a different high school in a desperate attempt to get away. The insults stopped but I still had to face myself; a change of scene wasn’t going to fix that. The following summer I attended a conference with the youth group from my church and found answers in the last place I would have expected.
At the conference I came to realize that God loves me very, very much. I matter to God. He is in the details of my life, even when I try to hide. This knowledge gave me value, and in beginning to accept that God loved me, I could start to see the other people who loved me too. It gave me a foundation to build on and the healing process began. The world is a scary place when you stop liking yourself. This gave me hope. I had learned about God as a child, but just trying to survive had consumed me and I had long since forgotten about Him. God had not forgotten about me.
During my second year of university, I came across the verse in the Bible that is now my favorite. It reads,
“I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:9&10)
The truth is simple. We are all the walking wounded, some scars are just easier to see. It’s not an easy thing to say “I need a savior”, but I did. I still do. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new. Even if you’re not a church person, chances are you’ve heard John 3:16. It’s the verse that talks about God sending his Son to save the world. In The Message, a recent modern language translation of the Bible, it’s written like this:
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. (John 3:16-18, The Message)
Words are powerful things and God’s words of love are the most powerful of all. If you want God in your life, you can have Him there today. All you need to do is pray, just talk to Him. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words. You could pray something like this:
God, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me for the things I have done. Come into my life and direct it. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.
If you prayed today, we’d love to hear from you. You can use the form below to let us know, or to ask questions. We would love to talk to you about the difference Jesus makes. He changes everything.
I smile a lot now –– I guess I’m still making up for that one silent year. While I doubt I’ll ever be a public speaker, I no longer walk around with my eyes on the floor. I am still learning, but I am no longer a danger to myself. My Mom tells me that I remind her of this little girl she used to know with curly blond hair, a quick smile and a glint of adventure in her eyes.
If you are in a place in your life that scares you, please know that you are not alone. Do not make the mistake I did of thinking that there’s no way out. If there’s something on your mind, start a conversation. Send us an email, we’d love to hear from you. We’re available any time, from anywhere in the world. Your email will be matched with someone from our team who will respond. From there it’s up to you. If you want to keep talking, just hit reply. The conversation is free, confidential and non-judgmental. We believe that talking about life, ideas, decisions and fears is better than not talking about them.