What We Say Matters

The familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach assaulted me yet again. I had just made a mistake—I said something I shouldn’t have—and was instantly filled with a sickly, emotional combination of dread, fear, guilt, and shame. Like Pavlov’s dogs, trained to salivate in response to a bell, I responded emotionally to making a mistake quicker than you could say, “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” I suspect that my trained response to error started in my early childhood as I learned to navigate the unpredictable rage of my father. It didn’t take long, however, for the physical violence—both witnessed and experienced—to turn inwards. I didn’t need dad to berate me for missteps or perceived flaws in my personality—selfish(!), thoughtless(!)—because I quickly became an expert at doing that on my own, thank you very much. In fact, I got so good at beating myself up that after a time, I didn’t even need to say a word to be flooded with a ghastly, gut-wrenching, emotional flood. The words had been internalized to the point of becoming my identity. Any success I may have achieved was not to be trusted; after all, I knew who I really was: an ‘“airhead” who, despite being a hard worker, was prone to messing things up.


I’m happy to report that the response to my most recent mistake did not end as it often did—by me willing myself not to run and hide or by trying to convince myself that I had not committed some kind of crime. (Even though I know this is not true, my stomach somehow failed to get the message…yet againnnnn!) However, before I even had time to converse with my scared little stomach, I heard these clear words in my head: “Mistakes help you to grow and learn.” And Poof!—just like that (INSERT SNAPPING FINGERS HERE)—the ball of guilt and worry disappeared. Yes, yes…it was gone! GONE! GOOONE! (INSERT HAPPY DANCE HERE). You are probably wondering who spoke those seven transformational words with such precision and impeccable timing that I never needed to deep-breathe my way out of my feelings. I’ll tell you who: me. I mean, not conscious me. It’s the me that I have been training for the past several months, morning after morning, by reciting my daily declarations. Daily declarations are statements of truth and hope that I speak over myself daily. Years ago I used Steve Backlund’s declarations, but for the past few months, I’ve spoken personalized declarations that I crafted, specifically addressing the issues I face in starting a business and improving my marriage. Romans 12:2 tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Reciting affirming truths over ourselves (such as, “mistakes help me grow and learn”) helps to facilitate that process.

don't give up. You are not alone, you matter signage on metal fence

Here’s the deal: Words have power. Words can create life, or they can be used to pronounce death (Prov 18:21). Consider that God spoke creation into being: “And God said, “Let there be light and there was light” (Gen 1:3). He didn’t imagine it. He didn’t think it. He didn’t hope for it or wish it (though all those things were involved.) Creation happened because and when God spoke. It’s vital to understand that because you are made in the image of God (Gen 1:26), the words you say also have power. In fact, the words of other people—especially influential ones—also can have power in our lives. Have you ever had a teacher or parent tell you you’ll never be good at math, and lo and behold, you’ve struggled with numbers all your life? Or perhaps you have experienced the blessing of having your parents verbally affirm your identity in a way that has given you stability in your life that others have never known. Jesus experienced this for Himself. It was the power of His Father’s words when He was baptized— “This is my son whom I love; with him, I am well pleased”—that undoubtedly sustained Him as He took the sin of the world onto Himself (Matt 3:17).

photograph of person facing opposite in smoky spotlight

Now consider for a minute the words you speak over yourself, especially those concerning self-care and how you feed yourself. I wonder if any of these statements sound familiar.

  1. I can’t have “x” in my house, or I will eat it all

  2. I’m addicted to sugar

  3. I can’t be bothered to cook for myself

  4. I hate my body… (thighs, stomach, arms)

  5. I’m a stress-eater

  6. I hate vegetables

  7. I have no self-control

  8. I was bad today. I ate pizza. (Psssst! You are not good or bad based on what you eat 😉)

Have you considered that what you say to yourself may be contributing to your “stuckness” when it comes to caring for yourself? While you may argue that you don’t really mean what you say, remember, your words have power! If you keep saying any of the above statements or something similar, you have little chance of walking in true food freedom. As a side note, many people are not even aware of the things they say to themselves. I suggest you start tuning in and note what you’re saying. Your self-talk may surprise you.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue…(Prov 18:21)

I believe that most of us have come into agreement with lies about ourselves based on words that we, or others, have spoken over us. What are the lies you’re believing? What is God’s truth? I encourage you to take 5 minutes with me right now.

  • Shut your eyes and ask the Lord to show you what lies you are believing about yourself.

  • I encourage you to ask for forgiveness for agreeing with the lie(s) and for speaking them over yourself.

  • Ask the Lord to show you His truth.

  • Turn that truth into one of your daily declarations.

In the past, I believed that when I messed up, I let God down, and He was disappointed in me. Therefore I’ve included the statement, “God is not disappointed in me,” in my daily declarations. I’d love to know what declarations you plan to use. Please share below. 👇🏻

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