Sticks and Stones

A safe place! A safe place! My kingdom for a safe place!

MONTANA — Greetings from the Big Sky Country.

It’s been getting cooler lately. Not cold. Just cooler. It will be a couple of months before we hit our cold period for this part of Montana.

Today I’d like to tell you a story that goes back to my childhood.

Sometimes kids can be cruel to each other.

They say or do things to one another that really hurt.

I remember when I was young, I was given a phrase to say to people who said mean things to me.

Depending on how old you are, you may be familiar with the phrase. You may have even used it.

You ready?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

That was supposed to let the person know that what they said intending to hurt you, didn’t hurt you … even if it really did hurt you.

I had the opportunity to use that phrase several times — I know, I know — You’re probably wondering why anyone would say something bad about me. But that’s another topic for another day.

Let’s focus on the phrase.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

As I got older, I came to realize that little phrase wasn’t just for responding to someone who hurt me.

That phrase was designed to teach me how to take criticism and personal attacks.

Get a backbone. Be tough. Learn to take it.

And through the years I’ve learned, first listen to what they say and see if there’s any truth in it. If there is, make some changes.

If there isn’t truth in what they are saying, then you want to remember …

They are just words.

Go on with life.

Practice at taking words intended to hurt

Like most of you, I’ve had the opportunity to experience being insulted, made fun of, gossiped about, ignored, even hated.

It is not unusual.

It is not unique.

You are not the only one on the planet who gets picked on.

It comes with this thing that we call … life.

And if we want to live well, it’s a good idea to learn how to deal with such words.

I’ve worked as an umpire, a teacher, a school administrator, and a high school girls’ basketball coach.

Trust me, in those jobs people said a lot of things that were … less than complimentary about me.

Was I miserable, dejected and in need of a safe place?


In fact, I absolutely loved each of those jobs.

I was not facing sticks and stones.

The people saying unkind things about me were just throwing words, and I didn’t have to let those words hurt me.

What are we teaching our children today?

But what are we teaching our children today about handling the bad stuff directed our way?

Unfortunately, it’s no longer “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

Instead …

We teach our children if someone says something that makes you feel bad, you should go hide in a “safe space” where no one will ever hurt your feelings.

And if our children don’t feel bad about politically incorrect things, then we teach them that they should feel bad.

We teach our children about things called “microaggressions” so they can feel hurt by things that aren’t even meant to hurt and in many cases are not even worth considering.

And then … they can go hide in their safe space.

Are the children learning what they’ve been taught?

Our schools may have trouble teaching our children to read and write and do math and think, but they have been very successful at teaching our children to be spineless cowards who will run to “safety” if anyone says or even thinks anything that might make them feel bad.

And many of those children are now adults.

As a society, we’re going to pay a heavy price for what we have taught our children to become.

I thought it might be good to see what God has to say about this topic.

Yep, God.

You see, God has given us instructions on how to live well. And those instructions differ significantly from what many of our schools and businesses and social media outlets and politicians are trying to teach us.

Check out the following:

“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” Proverbs 12:16

“… it is to one’s glory to overlook an insult.” Proverbs 19:11

“… love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …” Matthew 5:44

“… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

Does that sound like - find a safe place and hide?

Does it sound like - get back at people who say things you don’t like?

Or does it sound like - overlook an insult and pray for those who mistreat you?

Following God’s teachings requires strength and commitment.

Spineless cowards aren’t needed.

So now you have a choice.

Will you take society’s current view on how to deal with people who don’t like you?

Or, will you take God’s instructions on how to live life well?

What we teach our children in school is important. Everett Piper shares a thought about the impact of our education system.

I run across a number of interesting items in the course of a week, and I thought I’d share one of those with you.

“Trapped by the Taliban: One Woman's Escape from Afghanistan" is an interview with a woman who escaped from Afghanistan after the American troops pulled out. I think it’s important for us to put a face on events. The video interview is 32 minutes long but it’s worth the time to watch.

Before I go I’d like to share a blessing with you from the Old Testament.

“May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26 (The Living Bible)

Until next time … be the reason someone smiles today!


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