We often use words carelessly, or out of habit, without thinking about what we’re really saying. Over time, the words become burdens we carry as we either try to live up to them or give in to their lies. In this 2-part blog, I’ll share what God recently showed me about a few frequently used words and phrases that are particularly destructive to us and to others.
Never and Always
These two words are often spoken as accusations, false declarations, or condemnation.
First to / about others:
- “You never listen to me”
- “You always put work ahead of me”
- “You will never be able to”
- “You always fall short”
Often the words are spoken out of hurt and anger. These words make mountains out of molehills and bring condemnation instead of focusing on the current situation with the intent to correct and heal. And they bring curses to the listener, who is usually someone we love.
Then we similarly curse ourselves:
- “I would never say that”
- “I always mess up”
- “I'll never get it right"
- “I'll always be forgetful”
These words create limitations in our thinking, or false expectations that create pressure to measure up. We condemn ourselves, completely discounting the power of God to enable us to overcome weaknesses, transform us, and heal us.
Only God can say Never and Always and deliver on those words without fail.
- God will never leave or forsake us.
- God will always love us.
- God is always for our good.
- God will never hurt us.
- God’s promises always come
- God’s love never fails
As humans we will always have times of failure and sin, and we will never be perfect. OK, yes, an exception: one true never and always phrase we can say about ourselves with confidence, because it also agrees with what God says about us.
I am vs. I did; You are vs. You did
Closely related to Never and Always is this pair of mis-used words. Our identity is in Christ alone. Our actions do not define who we are.
Any statement we make that starts with “I am” should be tied to who we are in Christ, not to anything we did or didn’t do.
- “I am beautiful”
- “I am loved”
- “I am a new creation in Christ”
- “I am free from condemnation”
- “I am gifted, talented, and valuable”
But sometimes we’ve been told lies about ourselves.
- “You are nothing, and you’ll never amount to anything”
- “You’re a liar”
- “You’re stupid, lazy, careless”
Over time, if those words are repeated often enough and meditated on, those lies turn into what we believe about ourselves:
- “I’m a loser”
- “I’m so dumb”
- “I’m just a lazy bum”
- “I’m such a clumsy person”
- “I’m the strong one, I can’t fail”
We need to counter those lies with truth, separating who we are from what we did (or didn’t do):
- “I am a smart person, but I don’t know that subject”
- “I am gifted and talented, but not in that area”
- “I am a diligent person who had a lazy day”
- “I am a careful person who sometimes drops things”
- “I am an honest person who sometimes lies”
- “I am a strong person in Christ, but I sometimes mess up”
The difference is sometimes subtle between “I am” and “I did", but it’s a difference worth remembering and trying to improve on. It’s all in how you think of yourself: the words you focus on will be magnified, and over time you will become what you believe about yourself.
Continue reading part 2: I Can’t, and I Have To
With it (tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts]. (James 3:9-10 AMP)