“You are not pretty enough or stylish enough” were the words of a pre-pubescent boy. I stood in front of the crowd surrounding me like vultures, watching me die prey to the sharp daggers of these words thrusted into my heart. I faked bravado and stubbornly held my head high, but self-doubt slowly rose, quickly overcrowding the trellis of my heart.
“You were a waste of time, and I never really loved you…” he said at lunch. Here, in high school, the low self-worth was fertilized as his response echoed loudly in the hollows of my heart. I quickly developed the belief that one must work hard to be seen as a prize. Don’t argue too much; be agreeable and fun; hide the short-comings so the person would stick around.
“I was just lonely and you were there.” The words from a guy in college whom I thought cared. It was here that I learned that I was just to provide for a guy’s needs and when that was accomplished I would be traded in. I was the rental instead of the purchase. I was the used car the eager teenager bought before he could trade in for the ride of his life. I dressed up insecurities in nice clothes, make-up and accomplishments, but the words like heavy weight wisteria slowly choked out the light within me
Words planted insecurities that influenced even my walk with God. I didn’t want to bother Him with my needs. I subconsciously acted as if I could do enough to make Him end our relationship. I needed to earn His love, and keep His love by my good works. Whenever I sinned I put myself through a harrowing ordeal, avoiding time with God in self-afflicted punishment.
In the beginning was the Word
It’s beautiful though, how it was words that changed things for the good. But not just any word - The Word. As I grew to love His Word, I learned that more beautiful words were spoken about me, to me and for me. Words like, “God delights in me”, “He redeemed me” and “He adopted me”. Then there were words like, “His eyes saw my unformed substance; and in [His] book were all written the days that were ordained for me.” (Psalm 139 verse 14). It continued with more living word: “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved [me] even when [I] was dead in [my] trespasses, [God] made [me] alive together with Christ….” (Ephesians chapter 2 verses 4-5)
It was when I read these words that the irresponsible words slung at me withered away. As I prayed for God to reveal His love for me I became in awe first of Him and then of how He valued me.
His words uprooted the doubt and self-critique, and tore away the insecurities entwined around my heart. Even now, as senseless words still swirl around me from gossip, media and misunderstandings, I know for certain I am a prize. Not because I am the prettiest, the smartest, but because I got hold of His word and that validated me.
Society may have finally acknowledged that those playground words are deadly wrong – words can hurt even more than sticks and stones. But that has not stopped us from hurling those words at each other, from children on the playground to adults on their marriage beds.
As a family therapist, I have seen the wounds those words have caused. I have seen the broken marriages, broken families and broken children. But I have also seen the power of God’s Word to heal and restore. I have seen the power of God’s Word to pierce through self-doubt, low self-esteem, fear and hurt.
Mid shifting sands of doubt and fear
This is the one foundation stone;
My soul hath cast her anchor here;
I rest upon Thy word alone
Annie Johnson Flint
Stacy-Ann Smith is doing missions in Indonesia and is a child therapist. She is involved with children's ministry and working girls has a heart to teach them the ways of the Lord.
Stacy-Ann Smith’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/stacy-ann-smith.html