Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”

Whoever came up with that saying was a dumb ass.

Sorry but words DO hurt. I don’t think we’ve ever lived in a time where people use words like a weapon as they do today.

Social media has made this even worse. Twitter rants, Facebook posts and text messages are common now. People let loose now instead of thinking about the words they use.

I recently had a comment to a Facebook post from a psychotic family member which was intent on breaking my bones. My first impulse was to fire back with a word attack of my own. I restrained that impulse. They weren’t worth it. I removed any future contact by unfriending common friends. I’m not going to make myself an easy target to this troubled person.

That’s what you have to do to people who want to use words to hurt you. You remove their access to you. There’s no sense in allowing people to abuse you. I have known some folks who actually seem to enjoy that kind of abuse or debating the wordslingers. That’s not me and I won’t tolerate it. If you say something stupid to me, you’re gone.  Save the drama for Hollywood.

The truth is that words do hurt people. I call these people “emotional terrorists” because they will find words until they get the rights ones that will do the most damage. They want to push your button.  Don’t let them find that button.

In the world we live it is so easy for people to say something negative and tear down people instead of being positive and encouraging.

Why is it so hard to use positive words?  Why can’t we think first to encourage people with our words and understanding rather than tear someone down?  There is a desperate need for positive words today.

Negative words aren’t simply sticks and stones, they can be an atomic bomb meant to devastate a person. There’s no need for this.

I have a few things that work for me when someone attempts to hurt me with words:

  1. Consider the source:  Hurting people hurt people.  Whoever is saying hurtful words to you is not an expert on who you are.
  2. Consider the situation:  Sometimes situations bring out the worst in people.
  3. Know who you are:  You know you and hurtful words don’t have to change you.
  4. Remove yourself from it:  Don’t subject yourself to it.  Get away from it.  Unfriend them.  You don’t have to put up with it.

Life is too short to put up with stupid people with hurtful words. You know who you are and one person’s opinion of you doesn’t mean they are right. Don’t waste your time in a word war.

I know. Words still hurt. That’s how we are. We are still human with human emotions and feelings but we also have control over how we respond so that the sticks and stones won’t break us.

This Is Serious

Understanding-DepressionSuicide is a serious issue.

When my wife and I lived in Tampa we would occasionally drive over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to St. Petersburg.  It was a beautiful but scary drive.  Unfortunately it was (and is) a popular location for people to jump in an attempt to end their lives.  Just recently I have read where there is also a bridge near Nashville in the Natchez Trace which has become the same thing for people looking to jump.

A person really has to be in a dark place to resort to this measure.

Too many times people who are depressed or hurting are blown off or the situation is taken lightly.  Sometimes it takes just a wrong word or critical comment to push someone over the edge mentally.  We live in a world that is so quick to hate and be divisive but slow to encourage.

I have been extremely depressed before.  I know what it feels like to be in a seemingly hopeless situation.  First, you are frustrated with the situation and you think there is no way out.  You find yourself stuck in the same routine of hurt.  Second, you are too embarrassed to tell anyone or if you do you don’t feel like they are taking it seriously.  Honestly some people are uncomfortable with this confession or they simply don’t know how to help.

I know I was there.  Probably not to the point of ending things but I think we’ve all been at a low point at some time in our lives where just one more nudge or push would send us over.  For me, I was involved in the church.  That didn’t help.  In fact, when someone knew I was depressed they would say “Keep looking up brother” or “Trust in the Lord” or some other worn-out religious cliché.   Thanks, that does NOT help me.  I have to tell you honestly that sometimes church is the worst place to be for someone who is extremely depressed.  I mean, you’re at the point you need some REAL help and you can’t find it in the church routine.  It’s a bad place to feel worse when you leave church than when you arrived.  I’m not dogging church but I know that sometimes what we think is the cure can sometimes be part of the problem.  I stood in the parking lot after a men’s breakfast one Saturday morning wanting to talk to my pastor about what was going on but he kept looking at his watch because he had someone else to go.  I retreated from my desire to tell him and never tried that again.

Telling someone to “smile” isn’t the best response either.  A depressed person can give you a smile on their face but it does nothing to heal what’s going on inside.  Pat answers and religious clichés are not what a person needs.

If you are depressed and even remotely considering ending it all let me ask you to stop for a moment and don’t allow the darkness inside cloud your thinking.  Consider these things:

  • Start making changes in your life.  Sometimes even the slightest change can lead to a change in your thinking.  Depression can make you think that there is no way out or that things are hopeless.  That is a lie.  Yes, there can be some serious problems that can’t be solved overnight but taking just one step to change it will lead to more steps.
  • Talk to someone you can trust.  It’s embarrassing and difficult to swallow your pride and admit this to someone but this is so crucial in getting out of the dark place inside of you.  Don’t talk to just anyone.  Talk to someone you trust or see a professional.  You will be totally amazed what a relief it is to talk to someone.
  • Delay the jump.  If you get to the place of taking the drastic measure to jump or something else, delay it.  Step back.  Allow your thinking to reset.  Sometimes you will talk yourself out of it or shake out of that state of mind.
  • Think of people in your life if you go through with it.  The people you leave behind will be racked with guilt and mostly asking that “what if” question.  They will wonder why you didn’t ask for help or say something to them.  This act you are considering will cause incredible pain to people who really love you.  Sometimes, unfortunately, someone will do the same thing because you did it.  Think about it.

The important thing to remember is not to make a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  The darkness will make you think that the problem is forever but it isn’t.  Stick around and see what happens next.

The darkness is serious.  The rest of us need to be aware and do what we can to pull people out of it if we can.  If someone confides in us, we need to take it seriously.  Don’t blow people off or make light of it.  Don’t check your watch or joke about it.  If someone thinks enough of you to confess then it’s worth your time to listen.

Although I never got to the point of jumping or anything drastic, I have dealt with the darkness and the wound in my soul.   There were several things to push me to do something about it.  One was the pastor who blew me off when I was set to confide in him but he had more important things to do.  Another was a cutting criticism of something good I was trying to do but a hurtful comment cut me to the heart.  If I could get religious with you for a moment, I will tell you that the Bible verse in 1 Samuel 30:6 when everything was going against David and he had no one. The verse tells us:  “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”

At this point in my own life, I determined that I was going to take matters into my own hands and encourage myself.  I was responsible for my happiness and getting out of the dark place in my soul.  I made some drastic changes in my life.   There was a quote in a movie where Robin Hood’s father told his son, “It’s time for you to be who you are.”   It was time for me to be me.  One was leaving the church I had been a part of all of my life to that point.  I am sorry if this doesn’t set well with people I know who are still in the church and I know it is difficult for people to understand but this was huge in making the right change in my life.  Now I can see how much of a burden that life had been and the expectations I had to meet for everyone while I was failing miserably.  Since then, other things changed as well as other people have changed my life.  Just making that first change led me out of that state of mind.  Like I said, sometimes just making that first change can lead you out.  It worked for me.

Life is worth making the effort.

You are NOT alone.  Confidential help is available for free.   Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.



How To Deal With Hurts We Don’t Deserve


It’s hard when people close to you hurt you. It can totally crush your heart and you feel like you just want to crawl into a hole. Sometimes we may ask why God is punishing us. I can assure you that God isn’t always looking to punish us. People can be stubborn and prideful. If there is one thing you can understand is that God won’t force people to do the right thing. People will go to great lengths to keep from being wrong. Pride is a strong barrier to any relationship but when someone hides behind that pride, it’s a tough opponent.

So we are met with two choices. We can either stay in a constant state of turmoil lamenting over how unfair we are being treated or we can control how it affects us.

Here are five ways that we can control ourselves in the face of adversity:

#1 – Pray. Prayer is going to be your strength through it all. Prayer is not and should never be the last resort. Not only is prayer instrumental to your defense, but it is also important to pray the right thing. In praying, you must focus your prayer on what you CAN control – you. Let God take care of the other people. Pray that God will give you peace and the right heart. Not one of vengeance.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

#2 – Be yourself. In spite of what other people will do, don’t change to conform to what they want you to be. You will never be happy doing that. God loves you. That’s the only important thing. Their opinion of you doesn’t matter. Don’t live for their approval because you will never get it.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

#3 – Stick to the truth. Even if the truth is twisted and distorted don’t ever give up on the truth. Do not lower your standards. The moment you give up on the truth, then others will have their confirmation against you. Yes, it seems people always get away with believing and spreading lies but that doesn’t mean you should lower your standards.

“And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

#4 – Do good to those who do wrong to you. This probably the toughest one of all. At times you want to reach out and grab the other person by the neck and shake them with all of your strength. Some would say that you can “heap coals of fire” on someone’s else by doing good to your enemies but that doesn’t mean they will feel it or change their ways. You have to do good because that’s who you are and not that you are only doing it for something in return.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

#5 – Continue to do good even if good is never done to you. The “Golden Rule” is all sweet and should be something we all live by but this isn’t real life. Do good even if it is lied about. (Luke 6:27-36)

Are any of these easy to do? No. Not at all. People will hurt you and disappoint you. It hurts. It hurts bad. You have to get to a place where you can absorb these fiery darts without letting them completely rattle you. We all want the other person to change and realize what they have done but there is no guarantee that it will happen. Unfortunately we don’t live in a Lifetime movie. Most hurts we encounter from others last longer than two hours and may never be resolved. The ONLY thing we can control is us and how we react to it.

“Dear Heavenly Father, you see the hurt in my heart by what (name) has done and the lies they have chosen to believe about me. I am asking that you will be my defense and speak to their hearts. While I can’t make them see the truth or change their ways, I am asking that you can help me be strong and shield me from the fiery darts that come at my heart and the negative thoughts that come to my mind. Give me peace and wisdom to rise above this and continue to do good in spite of what I see or feel. I trust in your faithfulness. I know that love me. Create in me a clean heart and one that always stands for the truth and does what is good.”