January 21-22, 2006
My second grade music class was singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” The music teacher stopped, pointed me out and said, “Hey, Ed, walk up in front of the room for a second.” So I did, and the kids began to laugh. The teacher said, “Sing the song in front of the class. Something is wrong with your voice. Quit joking around and sing it the right way!”
And I began to struggle through “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” If you’d been in my second grade class years ago, you would not have thought that was a big deal. But to me, those words hurt. They wounded me. I’ve always been a little bit shaky when it comes to singing in public, especially using my real voice.
The power of words is really interesting. They have the potential to help us on one hand, or on the other hand, to harm us. Just for a second, look around. Look around. Specifically on your row. I’m sure most of you are seeing a bunch of well-adjusted Metroplex Suburbanites.
You’re saying, “Ed, not on my row!”
And I think if we had time to share with one another, to get really personal, I’ll bet you that most of us have scars on our bodies. In fact, it’s impossible to go through life unscathed. We all have scars. I have scars. I’ll tell you about several of them.
I have a scar right here on my chin. I fell on a train when I was a kid, and a man named Dr. Ed sewed me up.
I have another scar right there on my lip. I had a bunch of stitches because my lip got in the way of one of my teammate’s elbows at Florida State. He was going up for a slam dunk and—Boom! I was on the ground and he was in the air. He knocked me flat out.
I’ve got a macho scar on my right hand. I was shark fishing in the Gulf of Mexico years ago. I’d caught several sharks and I wanted to cut the jaws out of one of the shark’s mouths for a trophy, which was rather stupid. The boat was rocking up and down, and when I thrust the knife into the shark, my hand slid down the entire blade and really sliced the palm of my hand. It hurts just to describe it.
We all have scars. You can tell me stories about your scars, and I could tell you stories about my scars. And we show off most of our scars. Not our wounds, though. We don’t say, “Oh, look at this wound; look at those stitches!” But scars are pretty cool. And we talk about most of our scars. We’ve all been scared externally.
But what I want to drive at today is another type of wounding, another type of scaring. And these scars, these wounds, are stuff we don’t talk about. We cover them up. We camouflage them. I’m referring to a scarred self-esteem.
Your dignity, your value, may be scarred. You might be saying, “Well, Ed, how does that take place?” It takes place through words. The sacred scriptures say this about the words we utter. Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword.”
In this series I’ve been talking about the power of pronouns, and we’ve looked at several pronouns. Today, we’re going to look at three pronouns in maybe a different way. We’re going to look at “they, me, and he.” Say it with me, ‘They, me, and he.” Let’s put a hand clap together. They, me, and he. All right now. They, me, and he.
We need to move the pronoun down the line. Too many of us are playing ping pong between two pronouns instead of moving to the ultimate pronoun.
WORDS THEY SAY TO US
They. What do they say to you? What do they say to me? That music teacher was my “they.” He said something to me that harmed me. Words that they say to us—a parent, a teacher, a coach or another authority figure; maybe a friend, a spouse, or someone you’re dating. Words that they say can wound us. The Bible says they can pierce like a sword.
I was talking to a friend of mine several days ago. His name is Roy. And he said, “Ed, I grew up in a very athletic family. I tried my best to be a good athlete. One night we were having dinner and my father looked at me and he said, ‘Roy, just hit the ball. It’s not that hard.’ Time and time again I replayed that phrase over and over on the rotisserie grill of my mind. ‘Just hit the ball. It’s not that hard.’ The words seemed benign; it seemed like no big deal. But in reality they carried huge weight.”
I think all of us have those phrases, don’t we, that people have said to us that harm us? What do we do? Do we wallow in those words? Do we spend our entire lives saying, “Oh, I was hurt. I was injured. They’re so mean, they’re so bad! That just tore me up. My mother put my diapers on too tight! My father painted the nursery the wrong color.”
We have a world now, full of what? Blamers, boomers and generation excusers. “Oh, they did it. It’s their fault. Man, they, they, they. They said. They feel it. They hurt me. Poor pitiful me.” And we’ve become very introspective.
Let me stop here for a second. It’s vital that we process these wounds. It’s vital that we allow God to turn the scars into stars. It’s vital that we get Christian counseling. But we’ve got to build the bridge and get over it. We’ve got to row, row, row the boat past it, don’t we?
And I’m not here to parent bash. Remember last time I said when we’re born, what do we do? We’re asking this big, three word question. Do I matter? Do I matter? Do I matter?
The first mirrors we look into are the mirrors of our parents’ eyes. If reflected back were words of affirmation, dignity, value, then probably, we have a good self-esteem.
On the other hand, if we looked at our parents eyes and reflected back to us were all these distorted looks like, “You’re an accident. You’re an afterthought. You’re too fat. You’re too slow. You’re too tall. You’re too whatever. You’ll never make it,” then chances are we have a poor self-esteem.
Parents do not intentionally wound us. And we’ve got to realize they did the best with what they had at the time. It’s time to move on. But too many of us, and myself included, have sometimes wallowed in the they. I have wallowed in what they have said. So we’re wounded by what they say to us.
WORDS WE SAY TO OURSELVES
We’re also wounded, I believe, by what we say to ourselves. What they say and then what we say. They to we. (That sounds rather peculiar.) We believe those lies, we received those lies, and then we retrieve those lies.
“I guess I am too slow. I guess I am not that smart. I guess I am too fat. I guess I am an accident. I guess I am an afterthought. Well, I guess I am…. I guess I am…. I guess I am….” Just call yourself a liar. Just say, “I’m lying to myself.” You’re lying to yourself.
That’s not true. Yet, we do that and we believe that. And sometimes we take it to the next level.
Sometimes we compare ourselves with others. Do you do that? I do, sometimes. I think about a guy that I’ve compared myself to. This guy is better than me in the particular field that I’m comparing myself with him. And when I compare myself with him, do you know how I fee? Bitter. I feel like, “Man, I’ll never do that. I’ll never achieve that. I can never do (blank) like he can.”
I become bitter. Surely you don’t compare yourself with anybody, do you? Sometimes I will compare myself with another person and I can do something better than him. And I’ll compare myself to him. Because I can do stuff better than him, I feel better about myself.
I say to myself, “Man, I am pretty good. I’m better than him.”
So comparison either puts me in the dumps or it puts me on an ego trip.
Really, though, it’s ridiculous to compare ourselves with people. That’s like comparing apples with oranges. Or for the yuppies here, Perrier with Sushi. You can’t do it. God made it obvious when he made you and me that we can’t compare. I’m me and you’re you. So stop comparing and contrasting yourselves with others.
In 2 Corinthians 10:12, the Scripture says, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”
I was on a phone call a couple of days ago talking to a good friend of mine in Houston. In the middle of the conversation, I just brought up this other guy and I began to, you know, talk about him a little bit. And I began to say some things about this guy. And then we talked some more, my friend and I, and he said, “I’m going to be in Dallas in a couple of weeks. Let’s get together.”
I’ve known this guy for a long, long time, so I said, “Let’s do it.”
Then I got my hair cut and came back to the office and I began to study for this talk. Then I started reflecting back on what had happened to me that day. I started thinking specifically about that conversation, and I said to myself, “Man, Ed, why did you bring up that other guy to your friend in Houston?”
And it dawned on me. I brought this other guy up and I kind of cut him down, I kind of criticized him, (in a very intelligent way might I add) to make myself look better. That’s why I did it.
I am literally staggered how easily this comes out of my mouth. Am I the only one? I’ll tear someone down to build myself up.
Or someone might say something like this to me. They’ll say, “Ed, you’re a really good speaker.”
And I’ll say, “No I’m not.”
Then they’ll say, “Yes you are.”
“Oh, no I’m not.”
“Yes, yes, you are.”
Why am I saying no? I want them to build me up, give me props.
“Oh, you’re a great golfer.”
“No I’m not.”
“Yes you are.”
“No I’m not.”
“Yes you are.”
“Oh, you really know how to put fashion together, girl.”
“Oh, no, I don’t.”
“Yes you do.”
We don’t like to hang around people like that. I don’t. I don’t like myself when I do that. We’re wounded by words that they say to us. We’re wounded by words we say to ourselves and to others just to build ourselves up. And it messes up our attitude. Have you ever tried to relate to someone who was so self-absorbed and introspective? It’s very difficult.
Some of us here, though, hear what they say and then we tell ourselves lies. And then we conclude, “Well, you know what? I’m going to prove them wrong.”
And some here, your whole life’s mission is to get back at your mother, your father, or some other authority figure. And one day, you think, when you do a certain thing, when you achieve a certain level, then it’ll throw it back in their face and they’ll say, “He was right; she was right. I’m wrong. Man, they really torched me.” That game will not work.
When I was younger, someone hurt me deeply and I said to myself, “I am going to put it back in their face. I’m going to do 1-2-3, a-b-c…” And I finally got to 1-2-3, a-b-c. But once I got to 1-2-3, a-b-c, this guy could not have cared less about what happened. He’d forgotten about it a long to ago. I was the one messing my life up. He was not. I was. And with all this venom and this junk and funk I was carrying around, I was missing what God wanted to do in my life—all because of my bitterness and unforgiveness.
Words that they say to us. Phrases. And then we repeat those words, we believe those words and receive those words and we lie to ourselves. We’ve got to stop the lies.
I got the kids a ping pong table for Christmas. I love ping pong. Most of us live between they and me. We ping pong between what they say, what do I say, what do I say, what they say.
But when I look to what they say, I’m going horizontal. I’m not vertical. When I look to what I say and what I believe, I’m fallen and fallible. I’m whacked. So I’ve got some serious problems. No wonder we’re walking around not really understanding how much we matter.
WORDS HE SAYS TO US
We’ve got to move to the next pronoun. We’ve got to move from they, to me, and from me to He. What does HE say about me? What does He say? What does He say?
We’ve all been wounded. We all have scar tissue. Really, though, it’s a scar issue in our lives. We’ve been messed up. What do we do? Well, we reveal it to God, because revealing your feeling is the beginning of a true supernatural healing.
And Scripture says in, in Romans 8:28 that God can turn those scars into stars. “We know that God causes all things…”
Okay, all things: bad things and good things. All things: scars and wounds and words.
[the verse continues] “God causes all things to work together for good…”
It doesn’t say that all things are good, but God causes all things to work together for good.
“You mean the wounds my parents inflicted upon my life?”
“You mean what my coach said to me?”
“You mean what my friends said to me?”
“What my spouse said to me?”
Yes! [the verse continues] “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
REVEAL IT TO GOD
I’ve seen this happen so often, and it’s really something to behold. In our greatest woundedness, so often, we have our greatest strength if we reveal it to God and allow God to heal it and utilize it and leverage it for his glory.
So what are your wounds? I’m all into Christian counseling. Go see a Christian counselor and work through them. But move on. Don’t wallow in it. Don’t play ping pong between they and me. Deal with it and move on and discover what God has for your life. Reveal it to God. Come clean.
If you think about a scar, a scar is really evidence that you’ve started the healing process. And hopefully these wounds are starting to scar up already. And one day you can tell this cool story. Not about your palm or your lip or something else; but you can talk about a scar in a deeper way, an internal way and how God has healed it and how he is using it in an awesome way. So reveal it to God.
Also, I would say record your stuff. Record your junk. Record those lies. Take a journal and just write out some of those things. “You’re too fat; you’re not smart enough; you’re too slow, you’re this, you’re that, you’re that, you’re this.”
And then write God’s corresponding truth over the lie, over that phrase that you’ve been carrying around and turning over and over on the rotisserie grill of your mind.
Well, here are five things, very quickly, that God says about me. Five things that He says about me. They, me, He.
#1 – I’m acceptable. Those of us who are Christians have accepted Christ. But have you ever realized that God has accepted you?
Romans 15: 7, “…accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him (that’s Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”
Now that’s some stout stuff right there. A lot of you are walking around and you’re really wondering about your acceptance. You’re wondering about your value. Maybe someone said something to you and you don’t feel you are accepted.
Well, I’ve got some incredible news for you today. You are accepted! God has accepted you. Let me give you a brief illustration here.
(Ed asks for two volunteers from the audience.)
Tell me your name. Demi? Tell me your name. Vickie? Okay. Demi and Vickie, stand up for a second. I never like to embarrass anyone here. Turn around, Demi and Vickie.
Let’s say, just for a second, I’m God the father. Just for example. Demi, you’re Demi. Demi is Demi. Am I going too fast? Vickie is Jesus. So Demi is Demi, Vickie is Jesus, and Ed is God the Father.
What if you walked up to me and you said, “God the Father, which one do you love more? Which one is more righteous? Which one is more acceptable? Which one has more value to you?”
Almost everybody is thinking, “Ed, what a stupid illustration. Of course he loves Jesus more. But you’re wrong! Do you know what Scripture tells me and you? God the Father would say, “I equally love them. They have equal value.” Why? Because Demi has received Jesus Christ. And because of her salvation experience, she has received the righteousness of Christ.
So when God the father looks at you, yes, he sees Demi. But more than that, he sees the righteousness of Jesus imputed into your life. So, that should be some good news for a lot of people here that we are accepted no matter what you do or what you don’t do. If you know Christ personally, you, Demi, are accepted and so am I. Write that over this lie.
#2 – I am valuable. How can tell if something is valuable or not? Well, how much is one willing to pay for it? How valuable are you? How valuable am I? Anytime you see a cross on someone’s necklace or their shirt or whatever, think about the value that you have. God bankrupted heaven and he showed us our value by giving us His only son, Jesus Christ.
Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no store room nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!”
#3 – I am loveable. I’m loved and you’re loved with an everlasting love.
Isaiah 54:10, “‘For the mountains may be removed and the hills my shake, but my lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and my covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you.”
We’re always trying to be somebody aren’t we? We’re ping-ponging back and forth. We think, “Surely they will tell me that I’m a somebody.”
Well, they won’t really tell me I’m a somebody. They will tell me I’m a nobody. And then I’ll tell myself I’m a nobody.
But, when I go to He, He tells me I am a somebody. I am loved. I’m loved so much I can’t even comprehend it. If I knew how much I was loved, I would go into sensory overload.
#4 – I am forgivable. Even though I don’t deserve it, God has forgiven me.
Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
#5 – I am capable. We’re capable.
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
So I reveal this stuff, I record God’s corresponding truth, and I discover who I am. I just listed five. I can give you ten. I can give you fifteen. I can give you twenty principles about what HE says about you.
A man was walking through a circus one day, and he passed a row of tents. He saw an elephant chained to a stake with a small, flimsy bicycle chain.
He saw this elephant trainer and said, “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question? How in the world does that little chain hold this beast to that stake?”
The trainer laughed and said, “I’ve had this elephant since he was a baby. When this elephant was a baby, he didn’t have the strength to break the chain. Now, if he wanted to, he could break the chain like a thread. But it’s the memory that keeps him tethered to the stake.
We’ve got a lot of elephants in here. A lot of you are just going round and round those little stakes. You don’t realize who you are in Jesus Christ. You don’t realize that you’re acceptable, loveable, valuable, forgivable, and capable. You’re just staying in one little area ping-ponging back and forth between they and me, me and they. You’re holding that ping pong paddle with your trunk.
It’s time to realize who we are and for us to allow Jesus to break the chain. To break the chain, we have to reveal our stuff to God, we record our stuff to God, and then we move on. We break the chain. Because when we break the chain and move from they to me to He, we’ll have the power to sing (Ed begins singing), “Row, row, row your boat gently (everybody!) down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream.”