“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” ~Proverbs 18:21
Sometimes I wish I could go back and have a heart to heart talk with my much younger self.
I would firmly and lovingly hold her hands, stare into her fearful eyes, and admonish her not to believe all of the cruel things people said to her, especially those that were supposed to love her. I would explain that all of the fault finding they did was wrong and untrue – she was created beautiful and good in God’s eyes. She was made to shine, she was born for a purpose – she is a precious gift unto this world.
We all are.
I wouldn’t brush off their hurtful words with that old cliché,
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
I would explain that the hurtful names, the mean lies – all of it hurts and you spend a good deal of your adult life trying to battle the things that were said and done to your much younger self. The words and deeds that happened somehow take up permanent residence like relentless inner bullies in your mind. They taunt you and keep you like a prisoner of fear in life; a life that was made to live and enjoy in faith and love.
These inner bullies made me afraid of the faces and anger of man when I was younger. I learned how to get good at tiptoeing on eggshells around certain people. When I got older, I didn’t know how to walk away from the lies, but rather I would learn how to placate and continue to tolerate the wrong attitudes and actions of others towards me. Worse, I would wind up doing the same to someone else and repeat the vicious cycle of deep wounds.
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” ~Proverbs 22:24-25
Hurting people hurt people.
The behaviors back then affect who we are now for evil or for good. We can continue to choose to hurt people, or we can learn to start over and choose to be an instrument of hope and healing to others.
How many things have we failed to try simply because we feared what others might say, think, or do?
Admittedly, I was like that for most of my early childhood. Oh, I would try things, but if there were people there that spurned me through their words and actions, I would think twice of trying again, but not in front of them.
I can remember hiding in my bedroom, with a closed and locked door, practicing the things that I so desperately wanted to do well like the other kids. My room became a sanctuary free from taunts, threats, beatings, or jokes. Although I missed many chances to embrace life in my younger days, behind that door was a world all my own where God began to instill in me a longing for the day that I would be free to live, love, and enjoy my life. I would lift my right arm high in triumph and with great hope swelling up in me, I would stand up to my inner bullies and cry, “I CAN do it!”
In hope I began to rise so that others in my life would not fall prey to the same debilitating inner bullies that I did.
“For as a man thinks in his heart so is he.” ~Proverbs 23:17
When you choose not to stand up to your inner bullies their taunts, threats, and words cut deeper – wounding the spirit. They gain strength from the many times you fail to try or cower in fear of them and then, use it against you to prevent you from truly living. They lead you to sacrifice many years of joy, peace, and confidence – your very life.
Many times during my walk with God, He has used what the enemy tried to do to me to give others hope. At first, I was too ashamed to share my testimony for fear of man. One time in particular, I had just gone through the toughest battle with my husband and very few people knew about it. I was asked to lead a women’s bible study over an 8 week period of time with a small group of ladies. Each week dealt with a topic that connected with a wound from my past.
Each week I would battle that same spirit of fear, the inner bullies, that would vehemently tell me to shut up because others might judge me, not accept me, threaten me, or not like me. I would feel the trembling in my bones just before my guests would arrive. When they did, I would welcome them with a smile, but on the inside my spirit was at war with my inner bullies who would taunt and threaten me to shut up.
But, God didn’t want me to shut up.
The teachings began and I poured out my vulnerable and much-pained heart before them as God called and equipped me to do.
This was not about me.
This was not about my abusers.
This was not about anyone that was part of my testimony.
This was about God’s redemption story through me.
I can remember one of the ladies coming up to me after I shared my testimony for that day and she said, “I know that that was hard for you, but God is using that in a big way for us. Your pain gives us hope.”
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” ~Proverbs 13:12
I was tired of my heart being sick. I needed to hold on to hope.
It is this one word and feeling that God gave me in my room as a kid.
It is what the devil hates because when you truly have it, it can’t ever be taken away from you.
Years later I would counsel our daughter, AJ, as she shared the paralyzing fears and words that her inner bullies would replay in her mind as she lay there scarred for life, disfigured in her arm, and crippled for a short period of time. Yes, a short period of time. She was told she wouldn’t walk for 9-12 months, but in 7 weeks from the date of her accident, she walks!
“There is one that speaks rashly like thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” ~Proverbs 12:18
I would think about that heart to heart talk with my much younger self and the words would fall out of my mouth like rain, washing away the dirt that her inner bullies tried to suffocate and bury her in,
“You are beautiful. You were created good in God’s eyes. You were born for a purpose. You are a precious gift unto this world.
YOU. CAN. DO. ALL. THINGS. THROUGH. CHRIST. WHO. GIVES. YOU. STRENGTH!”
We believe that by exhorting AJ to forsake listening to her inner bullies and encouraging her to live and love life, God quickened her healing. She replaced the “I can’ts” with the “I cans!” She replaced the “You’re not…” with the “I am… in Him!” She is now walking and daring to enjoy and live life by going out on dates with her boyfriend and friends, writing, and daring to paint again. All of which she was too scared to do for fear of man and what others might say or do.
I may have been defeated in may wars by the words, taunts and threats of my inner bullies as a child. BUT, God was using it all to break the generational curse of hiding in the bedroom and setting others free with the hope that He poured in me.
The negative things that people said and did to you are not who you are created to be. Your inner bullies want to program you with their lies and threats so you never become who you were created to be. They want you to fear what others might say or do, paralyzing you and making you a prisoner of life. A prisoner in a bedroom like me. They do not want you to go out daring to enjoy life, love yourself as you are, and daring to share that others may have hope like you too.
God can and will take all that the devil tried to do and redeem it just like He did for me, just like He did for AJ. He will do this for you if you just dare to hope in Him.
The will of God won’t take you where the grace and strength of God won’t keep you.
The battles with our inner bullies wages daily. But, you must choose to believe that you are not the same scared and insecure child you once were – as a child of the One true King, you can be dauntless. And, in hope you will continue to rise again and break free from your inner bullies.
Wage war against your inner bullies and dare to rise again! Dare to truly live and be who you were created to be! Dare to share and be a beacon of hope to others!
I leave you with Hawk Nelson’s powerful lyrics on how to use our words as life: