Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I remember this saying and still find it to be untrue. Words can be powerful weapons or tools to build. I thought about that sticks and stones phrase earlier in the year as I was found myself caught off guard in one of those conversations that sideswipes you out of nowhere.
I wasn’t expecting it, and so I was ill-prepared for the way my bones were broken that day. When you’re up against the wall of shame, guilt, blame, or condemnation, it’s hard to fight your way out to the light and to freedom. I made myself fight for truth, and that day the victor did not win.Assumptions deny the opportunity for growth, redemption, restoration, and sometimes restitution.… Click To Tweet
The short of the long story is one I find to occur most often in relationships – a lack of communication or misplaced expectations. It happens more times than I can count, and I wish we could all be more quick to act graciously than to assume the worst and heap reproach on one another. Being real and honest with people about who you are and what you’re about gives everyone a fair shot of knowing how to relate to you or to at least adjust themselves accordingly. However, when assumption is king, no one gets the chance to be fully themselves and to adjust to how others wish to be treated. Assumptions deny the opportunity for growth, redemption, restoration, and sometimes restitution.
I am inclined to think that assumptions are a manipulative, sneaky form of blame and control. If I can assume something about you, it gives me a sense of power over you because it’s based on my thoughts about you rather than the truth of who you are – or at least that’s the ridiculous illusion I can fall prey to when I assume. I think about all the times I assumed something and was totally wrong. In those moments I have had to adjust my expectations or completely revise my perception of people and situations. I’ve had to take many thoughts captive to the authority and hope in Christ.
It is a process that does not come easy for me. It’s like eating a bowl of humble pie, but this can be for me good since my desire to to love without condition. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m here to be a doormat or that I’ll let someone get away with treating me any old kind of way. What I’m saying is that learning to adjust my expectations of people gives me the opportunity to see them as human – imperfect but worth getting to know and love.
I had to practice this a lot this year, and it has not been a cakewalk, but I’ve also learned some things. The victor does not always win when he or she attempts to use their sticks and stones to break your bones. Their tide of anger fades when you remember they are human and frail, and maybe they’re operating from a place of fear and insecurity. Sometimes that happens. The victor doesn’t win when I remember who I am and hold to truth. The victor doesn’t win when I choose not to play their game of blame and control. The victor doesn’t win when I do not allow myself to be manipulated by their anger or emotions. We are all powerful creatures who can control our internal response to the sticks and stones. I find this to be encouraging, and I remember the promises of God.
The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5-6
When the victor doesn’t win, I find myself victorious in ways no one can take away. The sticks and stones matter less and less as I learn to cast aside words that are an affront to who I’m called to be.
This post is a part of my 31 Days of Writing challenge. It’s all about taking the sour things of life and reframing them to find the sweetness of faith, hope, and resilience. I hope you’ll join me on this month-long journey. You’ll also find me sharing bits and pieces on my Twitter and IG accounts. I’d love to see you here, and you can also subscribe to my blog/newsletter here.