One of the things I have learnt early in the Genesis of my faith is that “Words Matter”. Good or bad, they have the power to impact lives and situations in insurmountable ways. It is within our best interest then, to understand the power that we have been given in something as seemingly insignificant as the spoken word. This adage agrees:“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.” Yet, I beg to differ.
Heal or Harm
Words can harm us as equally as they can heal us. Have you ever felt low? I mean really, low. While in that state, have someone everspoken words of affirmation to you, or even complimented you on something you were wearing?
If you are unable to relate, I empathize with you. However, I would challenge you to do the experiment.The next person you pass on the subway, busor the elevatorthat looks unassuming, sador zoned out, say something beautiful to them and watch how they come to life.
There is a 90% chance you would get a smile and if the mask hides it, the eyes won't lie.
If not a blessing...
Proverbs chapter 18, verse 21 puts it this way “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Ponder here for a minute.
Imagine God giving you the power to speak life or death in a situation. You would think that we would leap at this realization yet, speaking life seems so much harder to do than speaking death.
Remember the story in Genesis chapter 27 where Rebekah inveigled Isaac? She used Jacob to receive the blessing meant for his brother Esau.
In verse 34, the Bible tells us how bitterly Esau wept after finding out his brother had stolen his blessing. He went on to beg his father to bless himbut, because Isaac knew the power of his words embossed with the authority of God, he could not.
The blessing pronounced on Jacob was irrevocable. Esau would have to live under the lordship of Jacob and away from the richness of the earth.
But if not a blessing, then what? Deuteronomy chapter 30, verse 19“choose therefore life,” Moses encourages, “choose blessings.”
But what if some of us never got the chance to choose the one we wanted? What if we were so weighted by the pronunciation of the curse on our lives that we became victims of self-fulfilling prophecies?
There was a girl I knew all my life whose familyagreed that she had an attitude. Possibly inherited and possibly created by childhood struggles and traumas, no one ever got to the bottom of it.
What I was able to witness was that many people whether in anger or their way of discipline have always said things to her like,“you will not come off to anything.” They would compare us and project how I would be more successful than her.
She probably never thought about it,then she would always respond, “yes I know.” She accepted everything spoken over her until it eventually became her reality.
Unable to keep a job, maintain relationships or sustain her standard of living, she hit rock bottom. Broken beyond recognition, the family reached out to her however, she rejectedtheir assistance.
A case of self-fulfilling prophecy
I do not know it allbut, what I do know is that Jacob could and should have suffered because of his character however, he did not. The blessing of his father Isaac rested on him like a blanket of protection.Come what may, he knew he would be okay.
In the same way, I have a feeling that even if this girl tried to rise above her circumstances, it would have been a task to take on.The things spoken over her though taken lightly at the time, were actual curses whose yokes needed to be brokenfor her to thrive.
Now everyone looks at her with, “aha! I knew she would not amount to anything.” No one realizes that in fact, they pushed her there.
Unfortunately for her, she accepted it and life handed her what she ignorantly welcomed.
“Self-fulling prophecy is the process through which an originally false expectation leads to its own confirmation.” (Jussim, 2022)
The four stages of self-fulfilling prophecy are:
● Impacting the belief of others about oneself
● Reinforcement in the belief based on the responses of others
● The influence of one’s belief on the prophecy
● One’s actions changing their behavior and therefore manifesting the prophecy
Hear me out
If you have learnt nothing else today, I want you to take this with you: whether people believe it or not, there is power in the tongue.
Do not go around believing and accepting everything people speak over you. Understand the power that you alsohave to denounce things before it even reaches you.
There is a spiritual realm. One that is unfathomable.Just because you do not understand it does not mean it is not real. Guard your head! Guard your heart!Guard your mind!
Be careful what you believe and take care in what you accept. Be even more cautious when you speak. If no oneelse does it, know that it is totally okay to positively affirm yourself. You have just as much power as they have. All you have, is all you need.
Tamieka Pennant Dussard is a poet and writer, who has served in youth ministries mentoring young people both in Canada (current home) and Jamaica. She is the Director of “Young Wives Uncensored” a social organization which seeks to provide support and accountability to young, married women. She hopes to continue to use her gifts and experiences to motivate young people and share God with the world. She also enjoys cooking and sharing flexi-vegan recipes (IG: ltdkitchen)