Several years ago, I wrote a children’s book called Sticky and Stones. The key idea of the book was to help children understand that harsh and unkind words don’t have to stick to them. They don’t have to carry them around or even accept them. After all, the person who said those words probably didn’t think twice about what they said. Words have amazing power. No doubt, we all have some experience with this and are even guilty of letting words escape our mouths that we regret later. The good news is that we can own our mistakes and seek forgiveness. The unfortunate news is that we don’t often want to admit our own part in bringing sticky words to life.  Today, we live in a world where everybody feels like an authority, imagining they have a right to be harsh or disparaging any time they choose. They hide behind computer screens leveling words of hate and divisiveness. They only add to the darkness.

In my more recent book, It’s Still Possible, I wrote a piece called Sticky Self-Talk. Self-talk is sticky when it causes you to be discouraged, employ negative thinking, or fall into despair. It’s that moment when you allow someone else’s words to sting your heart. Those words are toxic, genuinely poisonous, and yet we take them in. As children, we are too young to defend ourselves against those who said we weren’t smart enough or good enough or somehow the right fit. We couldn’t protect our hearts and minds from the blows of unkindness. As adults, we don’t have to let sticky words have any impact at all. We can take the whole situation to God.

Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to be protective of our hearts because it is from the heart that everything else flows. That’s why we ask God to guard our hearts. He offers swift protection that sustains our souls, remolds our thinking, and renews our possibilities for future good. If you’re still wandering around with the arrow of an unkind word stuck in your heart from forty years ago when you were too young to deflect it, then today’s the day to let it go. In fact, take all those grossly inaccurate words and put them at the foot of the cross. The One who was rejected, spat upon, and scorned knows how you feel. Let Him lift you up and remind you that by His word and by His authority you are loved and set free. After all, He made you the light of the world and the apple of His eye. 

Stick to words of love because that’s what you deserve!