The Power of Words

Written by Claire Colvin

Claire Colvin_290x220Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words . . . can wound forever.

Pictures of me as a little kid are really cute –– curly blond hair, a quick smile and eyes always looking for the next adventure. I had the confidence that comes from knowing you are truly loved. If we painted pictures at school, I painted three. I had a storybook childhood and it showed. But I didn’t stay that way.

Around grade six I became the kid everyone picked on. Maybe I didn’t wear the right clothes, maybe kids are just mean sometimes, for whatever reason it started and it kept going. By high school there was a group of four or five guys who told me I was stupid and ugly every single day.   I believed them.

It is amazing what you accept as truth when you hear it enough times. As my confidence faltered and my self esteem withered away I stopped talking in class, in groups, or in the hallways. I dreaded lunch hour, never stepped foot inside the cafeteria and the thought of class presentations literally made me sick. I stopped smiling altogether. They tell me I went a whole year and never smiled once.

My whole life revolved around being as invisible as possible.

I thought that I couldn’t get hurt if everyone forgot I was there. I was too afraid to talk to my parents about it, even though we were close. I was convinced that there was no way out — you have to go to school.  (Years later I learned that if I had told them what was going on there were a dozen other options for school.)  I was so afraid, so hurt, so confused and so lonely that I began planning my suicide.  I chose a method and was working out the details when I had a dream that saved my life.

I don’t know if you believe in God, but I had this dream that I cannot explain any other way.  I had decided on the mechanics of how I was going to do it.  In the dream it was like someone had taken the roof off of the house and I was looking down on it from above.  I could see myself in one room and what I had done. At the same time I could see my Mom, standing on the other side of the locked door pounding on it, weeping.   In the dream I started to talk, to bargain, and this other voice said simply “It’s too late.”  Melodramatic, maybe, but I have never had a dream like that again.  And today, some 20 years later, I could draw you a picture of exactly what that dream scene looked like.  I cannot forget it.

Suicide is something that you can’t take back.

I’ve heard people say that suicide is a cowardly, selfish choice.  That’s not true.  The best explanation I’ve ever heard is this: Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds  resources for coping with pain. (Source) Now I can see  that there were other options, but back then the pain was so great it blocked out everything else – even the people who loved me.  I had not yet arrived at a place where I ran out of resources and I was able to choose differently.  I know that’s not always the case and I am grateful that I got a second chance.

Back at school, things did not improve.  Halfway through grade eleven I transferred to a different high school in a desperate attempt to get away. The insults stopped but I still had to face myself; a change of scene wasn’t going to fix that. The following summer I attended a conference with the youth group from my church and found answers in the last place I would have expected.

At the conference I came to realize that God loves me very, very much. I matter to God.  He is in the details of my life, even when I try to hide.  This knowledge gave me value, and in beginning to accept that God loved me, I could start to see the other people who loved me too.  It gave me a foundation to build on and the healing process began. The world is a scary place when you stop liking yourself. This gave me hope. I had learned about God as a child, but just trying to survive had consumed me and I had long since forgotten about Him. God had not forgotten about me.

During my second year of university, I came across the verse in the Bible that is now my favorite.  It reads,

“I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:9&10)

The truth is simple. We are all the walking wounded, some scars are just easier to see. It’s not an easy thing to say “I need a savior”, but I did.  I still do.  In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new.   Even if you’re not a church person, chances are you’ve heard John 3:16.  It’s the verse that talks about God sending his Son to save the world.  In The Message, a recent modern language translation of the Bible, it’s written like this:

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. (John 3:16-18, The Message)

Words are powerful things and God’s words of love are the most powerful of all. If you want God in your life, you can have Him there today.  All you need to do is pray, just talk to Him.  God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words. You could pray something like this:

God, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me for the things I have done. Come into my life and direct it.  Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

If you prayed today, we’d love to hear from you.  You can use the form below to let us know, or to ask questions.  We would love to talk to you about the difference Jesus makes.  He changes everything.

I smile a lot now –– I guess I’m still making up for that one silent year. While I doubt I’ll ever be a public speaker, I no longer walk around with my eyes on the floor. I am still learning, but I am no longer a danger to myself.  My Mom tells me that I remind her of this little girl she used to know with curly blond hair, a quick smile and a glint of adventure in her eyes.

If you are in a place in your life that scares you, please know that you are not alone. Do not make the mistake I did of thinking that there’s no way out.  If there’s something on your mind, start a conversation.  Send us an email, we’d love to hear from you. We’re available any time, from anywhere in the world.  Your email will be matched with someone from our team who will respond. From there it’s up to you.  If you want to keep talking, just hit reply. The conversation is free, confidential and non-judgmental.  We believe that talking about life, ideas, decisions and fears is better than not talking about them.

If you are worried that you might be a danger to yourself, or if you are having suicidal thoughts, please, please, don’t try to go it alone.  There are people ready to help you right now.  Hotlines, counselors and other help is available, 24/7.

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28 Responses to “The Power of Words”

  • Tom Winscher says:

    Thanks for this story. I can relate to it greatly and I have just used it to encourage a friend. You did it just right for encouragement and you need to know that …

    Thanks

    Blessings

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    What a lovely thing to say, thank you!

  • Michelle Sutton says:

    I could have written this story! Words can devastate, to be sure. God helped me and today I am whole, happy, and confident. Once I came to accept that the internal core of my being is in the image of God nobody could ever hurt me the way I had been hurt before. I live life today with few fears knowing that I never walk alone.
    I am happy that I came across this site. I am certain that it helps many who find there way here in their darkest hour.

  • Gonzalez says:

    This is a wonderful story. May God belss you. Keep it up!

  • ebere says:

    it is a very encouraging message, i am truly blessed by your testimony. keep up the good work and God bless you.

  • Esther says:

    I am blessed by your testimony. GOD BLESS you.

  • Sylvia says:

    Thank you for sharing this. So many people suffer like this.

  • amin says:

    thanks for this testimony, it gives me inspiration and I’m so blessed with this

  • Trisha says:

    Suicide is far from being a coward…it took more courage than i ever thought i had to try it! i was so full of self loathing i felt i didn’t deserve to live and bring anymore pain to anymore of those i loved so deeply. With every stinging slash of that razor blade, i felt it’s what i deserved…with every pill swallowed was like a ticket into Heaven where there would be only peace,forgiveness and the release of being the victim of others sicknessess.

  • cfast says:

    Trisha, I think you are confusing courage with feelings of utter angst. Being at the point of harming yourself is terrifying; that one could be that low to end it all. In the midst of such a low time, the love of others can barely be seen but it is there. It may only be in a few but people do love you. I refuse to listen to the lie that a person does not have a single person in their life who loves them. I know that above all else, Jesus always loves me, no matter what. No matter if that razor hits the wrist. He is there, loving us.

  • Trisha, it sounds like you’re describing a previous time of your life when you were seriously depressed and saw suicide as the only way out. I hope that you have have found solace since then and no longer harbor such self-destructive thoughts. If you still do contemplate thoughts of suicide (or anyone else who is reading this does) I encourage you to contact an online mentor to talk. It’s private, free, and confidential, and I believe that they can help. God has created you for a purpose, and since you are still here, your purpose in life remains even if it’s difficult to see at the moment. There is beauty and fulfillment in discovering this purpose and living it out to its fullest. A mentor can help you see and discover this for yourself.

    If your need (or, again, anyone else who happens to read this later) for help is urgent, I urge you contact a suicide help line, there are people standing by who want to help right now.

  • Trisha says:

    when i tried to kill myself i didn’t know anything about the love or presence of Jesus so HIM being there didn’t matter or change anything for me.

  • Trisha says:

    Darren, this was a time in my life of many years ago. It took me many more years of christian counceling and deliverance for me to get to the level in Christ where i am today. i just wanted others to know it’s a very real thing to want to remove oneself from the pain and agony of the hard lessons on this earth. i feel i still haven’t found my “purpose” to be here yet i’ve stopped all destructive behaviors including using esacpe routes of drugs and alcohol. i am finally at a place of peace rest, worship thanksgiving and worship. it took quite some time and even more emotional pain in getting here. Praise be to the living God!

  • Kimmentor says:

    Hi Trisha, I’m so happy to hear that you’ve come through that darkness to “a bright and spacious place” in Christ! I’m sure you know how people can feel very alone when things are at their blackest. And yet, some people still reach out at this point, asking for help. There is a very real way that you can help us reach out to others to offer hope and encouragement. Can I ask if you’ve ever considered being a volunteer online mentor? You can learn more about it here: http://truthmedia.com/thementorcenter/promo I pray God’s blessing and grace and favour on you…

  • Robert says:

    This is prett late in the game for a reply – something like sixteen months – but what a wonderfully weighty and relevant article this was for those of us who are genuinely hurting inside. Thank you, Claire for taking the time to write so openly of your very personal experiences in order to help others like me.

  • I have stumbled upon Avatar [URL removed, please see our terms of service] and feel salvation for the first time in my life. No religion, no doctrines, no “shoulds”. Just plain, simple, compassionate help towards understanding the “operator’s manual” of this earthly life.

    I strongly suggest looking into this DIY & supported course that guides towards the path of enlightenment. Therapy didn’t work. Friends could only tolerate me for so long. Suicide was actually becoming plausible. I KNEW I had potential, just never could get out from under all of the mental garbage I added to all of my original intentions. Now, I’m not smug and hugely self-confident. I just know that all the power resides in me as God’s perfect gift. I can be comfortable in my personal responsibility. It has made me a better husband, dad and person all around. I actually look forward to every day and make things work out for me.

    I am not a salesman nor a devout follower. I am a once-skeptical NYorker who has realized that a cynic is really just a disappointed optimist! Get back in to life. Scrape off and look into Avatar (I know – the name is now associated with that movie – no connection – goes back to the original meaning – Wikipedia it). Take back the reigns and live to the fullest.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Peter – I am not familiar with Avatar. I cannot speak to your experience, I can only speak to my own. I am glad that you are feeling better about your life but I know that for myself it took more than a program, even a new philosophy. I needed God. I did, and do, need to know that I am not the end point of the universe, that there is someone bigger, someone powerful and knowable holding the universe in his hands.

  • Gianna Mintu says:

    I felt inspired once I read the introduction of this fascinating story. I feel stronger everyday. I am a young writer the age of 10 and I love writing. I dream of being a journalist like you some day. Thank you very much for sharing this story

    Gianna

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Gianna, Thank for you commenting. Writing for a living makes for a really interesting life. If you like to write, keep writing! There is no telling how far it can take you. Writing gives us the chance to build worlds, to rewrite history, to discover ourselves and invent people who never existed. A very famous philosopher, Plato, wrote that, “He who tells the stories shapes society.” That’s you and me. We’re the story tellers.

    Have you ever heard of the Young Writer’s Program put on by National Novel Writing Month? They have some amazing resources for young writers like you. National Novel Writing Month (often shortened to NaNoWriMo) is a celebration of writing. Adults try to write 50 000 words – a whole book! – in just 30 days. For kids, you get to set your own goal and all the resources are there on the site to help you write all month long. It’s free join, just check with a parent or guardian first, just to be safe.

    Thank you for telling me that you felt inspired and stronger. That means a lot to me. It’s the thing that I love best about writing – writing gives us the chance to share how we’re feeling in a way that the other person feels it too. How amazing is that? Keep writing. Always. It will take you worlds you haven’t even dreamed up yet.

  • Bernard Bernard says:

    Writing is important. Follow your dreams, they are your wings!

  • Suhana says:

    Hi,Claire,
    You are right that words wound more than weapons.But I have believed that those who speak hurting words themselves need more help.
    Your words are very encouraging and uplifting to those who face a similar situation.Thank you Claire for sharing your story.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Suhana, I completely agree that those who speak hurting words often need help themselves. Years ago I worked with a very wise women who was 20 years sober. I remember her saying that one of the things they taught her in recovery was that “the pain we inflict on others is directly proportional to the pain we feel inside ourselves”. This pain is not an excuse – each of us is responsible for our own responses – but it does help to put things in perspective.

  • Angelina says:

    Thankfully God heals! He’s faithful!

  • Shelley says:

    Dear Father God
    Lord I lift all who are going through this situation in there lives-SUICIDE! I pray that You will help them not commit this way of giving up on life. You are too precious to God. In Jesus Mighty name amen

  • nessa says:

    I didnt get bullied at school.My dad was the bully….critical,hurtful,angry words,insulting,course joking..then the church and their shaming,guilting, never measuring up.
    Ive struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts a good portion of my life the most has been after I left the abusive church….and find it difficult to have a relationship with a Loving God…I know who he is biblically and believe mentally…but I cant get passed the hurt and pain of those who claimed they were speaking for him..

  • dream says:

    Nessa…I know it can be really hurtful if the church is abusive. Don’t look at them look at God’s word what he is saying about you that you are loved, forgiven and clean and so on. God’s promises are great. Hope you will find a loving people in a new church, because that what church should be about.

  • Chris says:

    nessa….sorry for your bad experiences with your father and the church. jesus warned us of hypocrisy beforehand so that we wouldnt have to stumble when it happened. i suggest keeping your eyes only on jesus since only he is perfect and only he is worthy of your trust and faith. as you do, you will find his healing hands upon your life so you can let go of the past and look to romans 8.28 to know that God will work all out for your good, even those things that werent good at the time….praying now that you find your restoration in jesus as you allow his spirit to move inside your heart and mind. amen!

  • Ckh says:

    I need prayer to get out a abusive relationship and to find a job

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