I think I will re-phrase this idiom: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will kill or heal me. Think about it – words can kill or heal. I don’t like being on the receiving end of a murderous tongue and neither do I want to be guilty of inflicting that on another. But sometimes, we’re just pitifully human. Instead of speaking the truth in love, we hurl, lash, slash, pierce, and stab. Once we speak, our words are out there, and we can’t hit the “undo” button. Over time the wound heals, but the scar remains. How do we remove the scar?
Several years ago, I remember severely ripping my right index finger just below the crease where it attaches to the hand. (I was trying to catch a hard-hit line drive while shagging balls for my son’s baseball team – not to be confused with a pop fly). It took about five stitches and many weeks to heal. Once healed, the long scar remained. I was told to rub vitamin E oil into the scar every day and did that for a long time. A decade later, I rarely think about it; but there is a faint scar.
So if I’m guilty of spitting bullets at someone, I should be quick to apologize then apply the oil of healing whenever and however possible – a kind word here and there. That mixed with a little time will help the scar to fade. If I’m on the receiving end of those bullets, it’s not easy; but I need to be open to forgive and allow time for the oil to seep into the scar. If the one causing me pain does not offer the oil, I can look to the Lord, the oil of joy for mourning.
I still have my bottle of vitamin E oil from a decade ago and sometimes have to pull it out and re-apply. Do you need to borrow it?
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)