Use Your Life Words

Author:  Rachelle Rieke

“I can’t get sick.” 


“I can’t get sick.” 


“I can’t get sick.” 


I sat in the passenger seat of our old burnt-orange Chevy reciting these words under my breath as my step-dad drove me to the bus stop. At the time, we lived out in the country off of County Road 76 on about an acre of land in an inviting baby-blue house we built from the ground up with a huge wrap-around porch and an unobstructed view of the mountains. Home. The sweet smell of country air. (Or perhaps not so sweet with the smells of algae-infested irrigation and the ripe manure from the sheep farm a few miles up the road, but even smells like that become a comfort when you grow up with them.) The piping of the sandpipers and the silvery song of the meadowlarks and red-wing blackbirds on their precarious cattail perches. The ankle-grabbing acre field of alfalfa that separated my house from my friend two lots down. On summer nights when it was time to go home, we would run like mad across that field in the dark rather than going the little bit of extra distance to walk down the driveway to the road. That alfalfa was extra grabby in the dark.


Even though my tummy wasn’t feeling good on that morning, I still remember it being a gorgeous golden morning, sun slanting in through the window as we drove the half mile or so to the bus stop. We always left the house at 7:07am. 


“I can’t get sick.” 


There was a time as a kid when my step-dad told me, “if you say you can’t, then you never will. Though I’m sure it was said with an edge of frustration at the time and in the context of a completely different situation, at my young age, I took it to heart. I really believed that if I said, “I can’t, then it wouldn’t happen. And that is why I recited, “I can’t get sick,” over and over to myself that morning I had a sour stomach. As I recall, I didn’t get sick and was just fine the rest of the day. 


Sure it seems like a silly thing or maybe just another cute childhood story… gosh those kids! They just do the darndest things! But what if there really is more to it than that? What if I was actually on to something real with my childhood belief? God said, “the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). In the book of James He says, “the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). Over and over throughout Proverbs and other books of the Bible, we are admonished of the power of the words we speak. Have you ever stopped to consider that darkness is released through gossip? In speaking negatively or judging others? (Yes, this includes the opposite political party. Boy am I in trouble now!) Maybe just maybe the evil we see in this world could be shifted if we took a moment to say a kind word to that person who was so rude, mean, or senseless (in our own eyes) instead of turning to our neighbor instead. What if condemning that person to another actually serves to augment their behavior because of the darkness released by tearing down instead of building up? What if that person is hurting inside? Would your words change if you knew their story? 


It has been a frequent prayer of mine for the Lord to show me just how much our words affect spiritual atmospheres and the people around us. I love words, and I see our ability to use language as the highest honor because it is in the image of God. No other living beings have been given the privilege of language – just us. It is by the power of God’s Word that He created the world (Hebrews 11:3), and He has put words inside of us! Wow. 


Words define and describe. When God gave Adam and Eve the commission to name every animal, He gave them the responsibility to define their essence. That is powerful! Much the way our own names are part of who we are. Throughout the Bible we see God changing people’s names many times. Jacob to Israel, literally, supplanter/deceiver to contender with God/triumphant with God. Names are important and can change destinies. Perhaps those destinies could never have been fulfilled without God first providing a life-giving name. 


One of the most deceptive sayings I ever learned is, “sticks and stone may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” How foolish. Words can cut deeper than the sharpest knife. Maybe that’s why even God’s Word is described as being sharper than a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)! Personally, I think I’ll take the sticks and stones over hurtful words. 


How does agreement with those cutting, negative words affect us and others? Our health? Now that gets real in a hurry. Can agreement with negative words actually contribute to sickness? Could my childhood belief and action of speaking the words “I can’t get sick,” actually have affected my reality? 


Think about it. Use your life words. 
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