“The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit.” Prov 15:4
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body.” Prov 16:24
“A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings.” Prov 25:11
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” How many times have I heard this? Especially as a child. I know it was said to encourage me to not be bothered by ugly things other kids said, yet, words do hurt, and they can leave huge scars. Words not only hurt, but hurtful comments can be so much easier to believe and hang on to than kind, uplifting words. Sadly, I seem to believe the negative words spoken to me more than the positive. Maybe, it’s because I hear the negative more. Maybe, over time after I am consistently told destructive things, I begin to believe they must be true. Maybe I never had as a child or adult enough affirming words spoken to me. Then I also am reminded of my own insecurities about myself. This, plus the fact that I had no idea what God really had to say about me, was reason enough for me to begin believing the hurtful words from my husband.
If you are in or have been in any type of abusive relationship, you know this to be true. Remember abuse can be emotional, verbal, spiritual, sexual, as well as physical. Abusive words can come from a parent, a sibling, an aunt or uncle, cousin, friend, anyone. Over a period of time, the ugly comments became much more powerful in my life than any good comments that were said to me. These comments then turned into my belief about myself and I could sense the life draining right out of my heart and soul.
After years of being in an abusive relationship with my husband, I truly believed all the ugly things I heard. I may have fought on the outside that his words were not true, but on the inside, they were cementing brick upon brick in my heart. I believed I was unforgiving, angry, bitter, too much to be with, unfriendly, too neat, just too. I believed that I was sexually broken and that I was sinning against God. Even when he thought he was “joking,” his comments cut like a knife.
I tried so hard to believe what God said about me, but the problem was, I had no idea. I was not faithful in reading God’s Word. I took my Bible to church and for the most part, that was the only time I picked it up. Sadly, there were quite a few Bibles on the bookshelf collecting dust. It was really hard trying to fight against the enemy when I had no weapons to fight with. In Ephesians 6 the first piece of armor of God mentioned is “the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” The problem was I could not stand on this because I had little to no understanding of the truth. I had everything I needed in this one book yet refused to open it.
I spent way too many years on this merry-go-round. Way too many years fighting against and with my husband. God wanted me desperately to hear His words of healing. I had no place for them. I somehow felt that God was in on all of this hurt. How could He allow this to happen? I think He did allow these hurtful things to happen, not to shut me down or to cause incredible hurt or despair, but to help me to run to Him so He could restore me with Words of Life. Words like, “you were created in My image (Genesis 1:27),” or “I knew you before you were born (Jeremiah 1:5).” Life-giving words that tell me I am truly loved by God so much He sent His only Son to die for me (John 3:16). I am His child (1 John 3:1). Christ rejoices over me with gladness and delights in me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). He has a wonderful plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11). I have a Father that cares deeply for me and provides for me (Matthew 6:25-34).
My husband and I had been married about thirteen years when one day I had had enough. I told God and myself, “Enough. I’m tired of being angry and so very tired of trying to control everything.” That was the day things started to change for me. I began reading my Bible and journaling God’s word. I asked for forgiveness for all the ugliness I brought to my marriage. I asked the Lord and searched scripture to see what God’s word told me about God’s love for me. Oddly enough, God’s words and thoughts were completely different than so much of what I was told and thought about myself.
This did not happen overnight, but slowly, day by day, the Lord began revealing His love for me and my husband. He began to chip away at the wall of anger and hatred I had built up over the years. It was an incredibly messy journey and I had to fight hard not to go back to my old ways of dealing with things. This is still true today. Sometimes it is so easy to just say, “Forget it.” But my marriage and my heart are too important for me to forget it. I spent years in resentment, anger and hatred. It took years to work through and change my heart of all this. I can say, it is possible, and it is attainable with God. God doesn’t expect me to be perfect, just perfectly running to Him.