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They were words that my mother no doubt said to me as a young boy and a message that I think most parents impart to their children at some point or another.

I think we would all agree that knives and children just don’t make for a good combination. So I wonder how you will respond to this little video…

Don’t worry no knife was hurt in the making of this film and thankfully neither was any child.

So how did watching that old video make you feel? Did the ‘near miss’ make your heart leap like mine did? Of course the film is very old (1950’s) and ‘things was different back then’.

But I can’t help wondering how many Health and Safety executives, or Child Protection agencies and workers,  would be near to exploding if they saw such a thing today?

It just seems so wrong doesn’t it? So counter-intuitive. Throwing knives around when there are small children about. Let alone actually throwing knives at them – well virtually at them. Here’s a reasonable statement for you…

Knives can hurt! They can cut! They can pierce! They can stick! And they can scar!

Rational, caring, responsible people don’t go throwing potentially harmful words at small children, loved ones or other people or even around when they are in the vicinity.

We are more caring than that aren’t we?

Well what if we take ‘knives’ out of that statement and put ‘words’ in there in its place instead?

Words can hurt! They can cut! They can pierce! They can stick! And they can scar!

Rational, caring, responsible people don’t go throwing potentially harmful words at small children, loved ones or other people or even around when they are in the vicinity.

Oops! We appear to have a problem here, don’t we?

Whilst the first part of our new statement remains true, the second part – the part that speaks about how we behave – no longer rings so true, does it?

Sadly the truth is that sometimes we do go “throwing potentially harmful words at small children, loved ones or other people or even around when they are in the vicinity.

Knives can hurt! If we jab or stab or slice or cut ourselves and can’t harmful words do the very same thing? Isn’t it true that often the damage they do is much deeper, often less easily seen and all too often much longer lasting?

Knives can cut! They can cut our skin but harmful words can cut even deeper can’t they?

Knives can pierce! They can pierce our skin and flesh and muscle and they can do untold damage but can’t harmful words do even more untold damage? Damage which often goes unseen? Isn’t it true that harmful words can pierce even our very heart?

Knives can stick! Didn’t we see that in that old video? But isn’t it true that harmful words can often stick deeper and longer?

Knives can scar! As a self-harmer trust me I know this is so very true. But don’t harmful words often scar, doing so much deeper and for much longer?

Ask any medical practitioner – nurse, doctor, etc – which they would generally rather treat, external bleeding or internal bleeding and I am pretty sure they would say external bleeding because it is easier to treat and often results from less serious damage tha internal bleeding does.

And the truth that lays behind that answer in respect of physical wounds is just as true of emotional, and psychological wounds.

So we have to I think ask ourselves, if we are deliberately responsible when it comes to knives, why are we so much less responsible when it comes to words?

This blog is about mental illness and I make no secret of my mental illness and the ways in which it affects or impacts me.  I try my best to be as open as I can in the hope that it will not only benefit me but also help others who suffer from similar mental illness.

Being so open about my mental illness opens me up to all sorts of reactions and responses and trust me some of them are good and some are pretty bad.  But I do so because I believe in the benefit of being open about it and because my faith and beliefs as a Christian prohibit me from living a lie.  (Something which sadly I did for far too long in respect of my mental health.)

But being a Christian does not remove me from the same kind of attacks or unhealthy or unhelpful responses and reactions that many folk with poor mental health or who suffer with mental illness are subjected to.

One of the ways in which my mental health effects me, which is very relevant to this piece is that confrontations, disagreements, unhelpful or unhealthy comments seem to affect me more than most.

For some reason the voices in my head latch on to them, cling to them, focus on them.   They, and my internal dialogue, repeatedly throw them back at me for days after the actual original statement was made by someone, or for days after the original confrontation or disagreement.

Monday evening I went to Bible study with a group of fellow Christians at the church I attend.  During that evening I had a civilized and non-abusive disagreement with one of the other people there.  Additionally one or two statements where made which truly unsettled me.  And here we are on Wednesday afternoon and my mind has not been able to let this go.

I need to point out and make it very clear that no-one said anything rude or deliberately disrespectful and that I am convinced that no harm was deliberately intended.  And yet harm was without doubt done to and possibly by me.

This is a group of loving, respectful and well-intentioned Christian brothers and sisters and still hurt happened.  And that is the point isn’t it?  That even in the most well intentioned and loving group and circumstances these things – being hurt by harmful words and hurting others by harmful or careless words – are still possible.

My faith has already enabled me to forgive that which was said and the harm that was done.  My mind and my mental illness may be much slower at letting go of these things and no doubt will continue to use them against me.

All I can do in that regard is stand on 2 Corinthians 10:5..

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV)

But I do also recognize my own weaknesses and failings in all of this and I do unreservedly apologize for any time when my words have been careless and harmful and have caused hurt to others.

And I do also want to encourage us all to be careful with our words and to remember that they all too often can be just as, if not more, dangerous as the sharpest knife.

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