You are likely familiar with the nursery rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Words may not break our bones, but if left to run wild in the wilderness of our imaginations words can in fact wound our souls so deeply, if not filtered through the Truth of the Gospel. They can dictate the narrative of our minds so covertly and ferociously that they rule our emotions, validate our fears, steal our joy, inhibit our purpose, and limit—if not completely destroy—our potential. In other words, words can so easily knock us out of phase. I have experienced this in my own life and have witnessed it in the lives of others – many others.

The words that wound us most deeply are often spoken to us as a child—most commonly by parents—which further cements them in our hearts, becoming more than just a label but our identity. Some examples of this include; “How can you call yourself a Christian because you do….”, “Who do you think you are that you should….”, “What makes you worthy of…”, “You will never amount to anything…”, etc. There are also more direct labels such as stupid, failure, lazy, shameful, not good enough, worthless, and the like.

I have seen such labels cripple people emotionally and cause them to do or act in a way that is limiting at best and self-destructive at worse. If left unchecked they can cause us to reject opportunities that we were made for, keep us tied to the past to the point we would never consider working in a different vocation, or moving away from our hometown. They can ruin relationships, cause us to be tied to a particular church or political party that no longer reflects our values, and ultimately if we don’t deal with these wounds we will most certainly recycle them wounding those closest to us—most often our family.

Scripture tells us the power of life and death are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Each of us has the ability to speak life (blessing) or death (curses) over others. If these words take root in their hearts they can have lifelong impact. Not only that, but in families these curses can—and often are—passed on from generation to generation.

Are there labels or phrases that have been spoken over you that still haunt you, that cause pain, that provoke fear, rage, or shame? God’s perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Through Jesus, His grace will convict us but not condemn us (Romans 8:1).

Because of their familiarity destructive words are often one of if not the most-subtle things that can knock us out of phase. But, because of the deep-seated nature of them they can be difficult to identify and address.

If this blog hits particularly close to home, I encourage you to pray for release from these generational curses, filter them through the Truth of Scripture, consider counseling, or if you’ve broken free and are wondering what’s next possibly some coaching.

There was a time I was knocked out of phase by words that had kept me bound and beaten down, labels that stoked my fears, and phrases that convinced me that I was somehow beyond redemption. Through prayer, study, counseling, and coaching I learned the only power these words had over me was the power I gave them. Focusing on them instead of Jesus is what knocked me out of phase. This journey, however, has helped me see this truth: Jesus came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18)!

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