Growing up, I was called various names by people I knew. These names were hurtful, lowered my self-esteem, and made me feel insecure.
I began to believe the lies I was told and this branded my identity. I wished I were different – someone else other than me.
Words are powerful.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”?
I’m sure you have but it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Words hurt and can stay with you for a lifetime. In fact, it’s quite difficult to let go of the hurtful comments that come from others.
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What does the Bible say about words?
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” (Proverbs 15:1 ESV).
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits,” (Proverbs 18:21 ESV).
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body,” (Proverbs 16:24 ESV).
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing,” (Proverbs 12:18 ESV).
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit,” (Proverbs 15:4 ESV).
What does the Bible say about letting go?
“Cast all your anxiety on to him because he cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV).
“A time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,” (Ecclesiastes 3:6 ESV).
“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end,” (Proverbs 29:11 ESV).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you,” (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV).
The Effects of Hurtful Words
Hurtful words can last a lifetime. They certainly stayed with me for a long time. It wasn’t until I believed in Jesus that I began to become more secure and gained higher self-esteem.
I no longer put my identity in what others thought about me. Rather, I knew my identity was in Christ.
Hurtful words can also lead to health issues such as depression, heart disease, stress, anxiety, and more.
Letting go of hurtful words
Hurtful words sting and it’s hard to let go. But, there are a few things you can do to help move you forward and past the hurtful words.
#1 Process what happened.
Life happens and sometimes we get busy that we don’t have time to process what’s happened.
Processing what has happened and how certain hurtful words have affected you is helpful. Have you ever heard of the saying, “The first step to a problem is recognizing there is one.”
Process the hurtful words that have been said to you and ask yourself how these words have affected you. Have they made you insecure or made you feel a certain way about yourself?
Helpful tip: I find it helpful to write down what I’m processing. It helps me focus and gives me a guideline.
#2 Pray about it.
The first step to letting go of hurtful words is to pray about it. This should be our first response because God is ultimately in control. He also cares about what happens to us.
When you pray, you’re giving God control over it. Here’s a sample prayer:
These hurtful words are having a hold over my life. I no longer want these words to affect me. Instead, allow your word to dictate my identity. I give you all control over the situation and I choose to let go. Help me and strengthen me to do this through your power. Thank you so much for all that you.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen”
#3 Give it to God.
Once you’ve finished processing and praying, you need to give this to God. God is in control and He can handle the struggles in your life. Trust Him.
It’s harder said than done, of course. But giving things to God is a choice. You choose to give things to God.
During prayer time, if you still find it difficult to hand this situation over to God, ask for his help. He’s more than willing to help you on your journey to healing.
Forgiving is essential for moving forward. If you don’t forgive, it will make you bitter. A professor I once had said, “bad things can either make you better or bitter”. It’s so true!
When bad things happen, we can either learn from it and become better or we can let those feelings fester which makes us bitter.
Trust me, you don’t want to be a bitter person. I know a few in my life and it’s not pretty.
I know forgiving is hard but there are a few ways to work through forgiveness when it’s difficult.
#5 Respond with love.
If this person is still in your life, respond with love. Don’t try to take vengeance on this person or treat them unkindly.
Jesus tells us to love our neighbor – that means we need to love everyone. When you extend love where others would show hate, it shows Christ in your life.
Disclaimer: I’m not condoning reconciliation with people who abuse.
I’ll close with this quote by C.S. Lewis.
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C.S. Lewis.
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