one of the worst possible things in the world to call a 13 year-old girl is ratdog. i should know. my brothers used to call me that. for years. ratdog.
i felt ugly. i was convinced that i was a ratdog. they never knew how deeply that hurt me, but it was a label that sunk in. i know at this point in my life that they were kidding, but as a 13 year-old girl, “ratdog” was how i thought i was.
strangely enough, they also used to call my cousin, trisha, “chicken wing”. she hated it too, but i think that she just pretended to hate it as much as i hated ratdog because ratdog was so much worse of a name. i mean calling a little girl a dog is bad enough, but ratdog is so much worse. anway, i digress.
what i want to get at is how much our words affect one another. i have a younger cousin who, because of the words that people used to describe her and the online bullying that they inflicted upon her, changed schools because she couldn’t take it anymore. and she was a strong kid. other kids may not have been as strong. other kids may have taken a much darker way out. our words affect each other.
in james 3, we can read about how our tongues (the words that we choose to speak) affect so much. i both like and dislike this verse because i know i need to work on this: (check it, james 3:3-10)
3-5A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
5-6It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
7-10This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
out of the same mouth the holy and profane…we praise God and we make fun of our “friends”. how does that work?
ratdog. sorry, i just can’t seem to get away from that. i knew i was made in the image of God – i think i’ve always known that – however, when you get called something, or told you are something, over and over, you start to believe it even if it is a lie.
perhaps (and i hope this to be true) no one has ever called you a ratdog. but i’m sure you’ve been called some pretty horrible things: idiot, stupid, dumb…worse? slut, whore…worse still? those labels, those comments, those insults stick. they stick on me, and i’m pretty confident in who i am. how much more strongly would they stick on someone who is struggling with their identity?
chicken wing. really? it’s not that bad…not like ratdog. but this still seemed to bother trisha. in fact, sometimes we don’t realize the severity of our comments. this is a great chance to actually stop and think about what we are saying and to who.
think about it, in james 3 it said that “by our speech we can ruin the world”…the world!?! maybe it’s just one person’s world, but the world nonetheless. ratdog ruined mine. it made my world darker. changed my view of the world. maybe your words are ruining the world, or someone’s world. think about it.
focusing on building each other up, instead of tearing each other down…that’s the words we should be speaking. truth. speaking life. speaking hope into people’s lives. i love being around people who are positive. hopeful. full of encouraging words. they really do breathe life into situations. the world needs more of these people. perhaps you could be one. maybe i could to.
i am not a ratdog. i know that now. i am enough. so are you.
until next time.