“Nice girls don’t talk like that.” Okay, if you say so.
Are the words we say out loud the only ones we should be focusing on? Maybe not. The words you hear might not be the most troublesome words I say. Equally important and less discussed are the words we say to ourselves all day long—the lies we believe, the doubts we allow to snuff out our dreams, and the critiques we wouldn’t offer our worst enemy. It’s time to reset your internal monologue.
When words become the sticks and stones
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Defiantly, I chanted these words at my sister, possibly my cousin as well. My snippy tone most definitely negated the encouragement and meaning intended by whomever first told them to me. Instead of using the catchy phrase as a refuge, my sassy younger self fashioned those words into a weapon.
Our words matter. If we let them, our words become the sticks and stones with which we hurt ourselves.
Want to know what’s paralyzed me for years? Other people’s words. Many times, the words are spoken directly to me. Occasionally, it’s a comment made in a different context that I promptly apply to myself. Sometimes, the words aren’t spoken at all. Instead, my fear creates a potential dialogue of disappointment, disapproval, and disagreement.
Words have stopped me from writing. The potential backlash I may receive from others has paralyzed my study and discussion of important topics. I have chosen to disobey God’s calling in my life because I was afraid of what other people might say or think. I chose disobedience over discomfort.
Our internal monologues (you know, monologue like Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, but decidedly less funny) are working overtime to hold us back. We’re allowing fear to steal our passion and zeal for God’s purpose in our lives. It’s time to reset your internal monologue and mine!
When you don’t fit the definition
“Women aren’t allowed to [insert topic of your choice] in the church.”
Those words hurt. Or, at least they do for me. Whether spoken bluntly or implied, the idea of how I fit within the church is shaped by the words I hear and the people I see.
(Before my words hurt people who are dear to me, let me say something very clearly. There are wonderful, godly people who have encouraged me and whose example has shaped me and my faith. This is not about them.)
I tried to fit the mold for a long time. Believe it or not, I held myself back and modeled the women who seemed to thrive in our church. On Wednesdays, I helped in the kitchen. During Vacation Bible School, I made snacks. I even ran the nursery for several years. I tried really hard.
But, as the years passed and my faith grew, so did my discomfort.
What are you supposed to do when the way God gifted you doesn’t fit the definition someone told you?
Yeah, God really did say that
Moses is trudging through the desert towards the Promised Land with millions of people in tow. With God leading, everything matters—the minute details of the tabernacle, everyone’s job, the various sacrifices and celebrations, even how they will react to future events.
Until now, I skimmed most of this story. I didn’t want to read all the little details or be reminded about how men were in charge of everything. This time, I was ready for the details.
Surprise, God didn’t forget about the women who walked with Moses.
“The daughters of Zelophehad are right… And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter.’” Numbers 27:7-8
These sisters fought for their inheritance through the system of judges, all the way to Moses and God. And they were right. God told them so. They changed the way inheritance laws were applied for all of Israel.
“And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you, until the Lord gives rest to your brothers…Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’” Deuteronomy 3:18-20
The women were strong enough and capable of running 2 ½ tribes. God said so. Moses commanded the men to cross into the Promised Land and fight with the other tribes while the women established their lives in their new land. They raised families, cared for livestock, ran businesses, and built cities.
Using your words
God gave us powerful gifts—boldness and discernment. They are like the cream and sugar to your coffee. Whether God created you outgoing or withdrawn, you have both boldness and discernment. The only difference is how you deliver truth.
Here’s an example.
I have one friend who is a powerful speaker. She’s fiery with big earrings and is hard to contain on a stage. If you’re looking for someone to challenge you, she’s your gal.
Our other friend is almost the exact opposite. She’s quiet and reserved, the person most likely to be found sitting in the back of the room taking in what’s happening.
Both of these women are powerful teachers of the gospel. One uses her story to ignite rooms and spur holy unrest. My other friend quietly sits and engages in conversations about trauma and recovery. Both are used well in very unique ways because they are honest and open.
Your voice and message start within. Only then can you reach others.
Reset your internal monologue
Let’s change the way we talk to ourselves. It’s time to reset our internal monologue.
Free yourself from the weight of these words so we can move forward. Start with these 3 questions. What lies do you believe? How are doubts snuffing out your dreams? How does your personal criticism hold you back?
2020 is not a lost cause. Neither of us wants to look back and regret wasting time on things we couldn’t change.