I had the opportunity recently to speak to middle and high school students. What do you share with students of this age? You share your own story. I did not like myself during those years. I struggled deeply with my self worth, considered myself fat and ugly, and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be my friend. I even shared with them a picture of me in ninth grade that I had written on it “ugly.” The words we call ourselves matter.
There were lots of life experiences that contributed to those feelings, but we all have times when we are hard on ourselves. These words can be with us for a lifetime. They change how we act in the world, and they change our brain.
The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. (James 3:3-6 NLT)
The words we call ourselves can corrupt our entire body. This scripture is as much for what we say to ourselves as it is about what we say to others. We know words have power. They have power within ourselves, as well. All I need to do ist art thinking about the negative things I have called myself and I can feel my mood dip. I can feel my spirit hurt.
Here’s the thing. All of these things I have called myself are lies. They are not who we are. The students and I made a list of the words God calls us. Many of them are in the cross above. We are created in His image and that is what He sees in us. Holding onto the lies is denying who we really are. We are God’s beloved children. He speaks words of affirmation over us to remind us who we are.
I had the students claim new words to replace the ones they were declaring as lies. As we are instructed in 1 Peter not to speak evil or tell lies. We prayed these new words over our lives. I sincerely wanted them to be kinder to themselves, and I needed the reminder to be kinder to myself because the words we call ourselves matter.
What words do you call yourself? Are they words of truth or words of lies? What new words do you need to claim for yourself? What is God whispering in your ear about who you are? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.