“Hey, my name’s Terry. Wanna have a stone fight?” the boy who lived across the gravel road yelled as he rode his bike into our driveway.
We had just moved 200 miles so my parents could start a restaurant. It devoured their time and most of my seventeen-year-old sister Lorraine’s time. I welcomed the idea of meeting a new friend before I started first grade in the fall.
I smiled and nodded yes without knowing what a stone fight was.
Terry jumped off his bike and let it drop. “Okay, you asked for it!” He reached a grubby hand into his bulging jeans pocket and started to throw stones at me as hard as he could.
I tried to ignore the pain as I bent over to pick up a stone. I threw it at him with all of my five-year-old might, but it fell far short of its mark. He laughed and kept throwing stones.
When I tasted blood and started screaming, Lorraine came running and put her arms around me. Terry jumped on his bike and sped away with a sneer on his freckled face.
The physical bruises healed quickly, and now I can laugh at how naïve I was. I learned an important lesson that day. Now I don’t give people permission to hurt me.
People have thrown sharp words at me also. The pain from such words remains in my heart even now. Those memories bring tears rather than laughter.
“You’re good for nothing.”
Such words caused me to form a false image of myself, and it took many years before God showed me truth and helped me change my beliefs, my thoughts, and my words. Like most people, I carry scars from sharp words people have thrown at me, and I know what it feels like to wound others with words.
There are better choices.
I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of stones and the constructive ways people can use them. God made stones with positive as well as negative potential. No doubt, we could think of thousands of ways people use stones to benefit others. People have made fantastic buildings from stones. Old Testament believers built stone altars to commune with God. God even likens believers to “living stones” who make up His church.
Stones remind me of words. They are more than weapons. We can use them to hurt others or to build beautiful, strong relationships.
What words would you suggest using to build healthy relationships?