I was only joking

OCTOBER 1, 2016

Words create worlds for ourselves and the people around us to live in. Discover below the power of your words and how to use them to change your life.

“Are you gay?” This was a common question asked of me as I was growing up, when I would try to explain to a new friend that I had never had a girlfriend before. They would see me shut down and then they would say, “I’m just joking.”

Have you ever had someone say “I was only joking” after saying something rude or demeaning? Instead of apologizing, they say a phrase that implies you’re too sensitive.

I didn’t realize it then, but these kinds of “jokes” sparked a fear deep within me, to the point of not being comfortable in my own skin. Another lie that came out of my teenage season occurred when people negatively commented on my personality.

“Rory, you’re too intense and mean.”

“People don’t like working with your personality type because you run over people.”

I remember hearing a pastor use the phrase “like a bull in a china shop.” I thought to myself, I am that bull in the china shop.

“It was in that season of life I started to learn whenever intimacy, true connection and love enter your life, fear gets disassembled.”

After graduating Bible College, I moved to Utah to intern at a church. The same kind of discouraging encounters continued there. While serving on the youth team, I was pulled aside by another youth leader and told, “Rory I am sorry to say this but, I don’t like your personality and I don’t know if we will ever be friends. I hope I can just be ok being in the same room as you.”

I left that conversation trying to act like what was said didn’t affect me, even though I knew deep down something was bleeding.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to talk about it. Fear had rooted itself into in my life through a lie that said, “People don’t like who you really are, so hide yourself around them.”

While in Utah, I found myself dating a girl for the first time. Yes, my first girlfriend was in my twenties! As a testament to God’s goodness and love, she also said yes to marrying me! As my relationship grew with my wife these same fears started to manifest.

It was in that season of life I started to learn whenever intimacy, true connection and love enter your life, fear gets disassembled. As time went on, my wife and the leaders of the ministry I was serving started to show me unconditional love. That love broke down the fear and lies that had tried to rob me of who God made me to be.

In my life, these fears and lies were empowered by words that were spoken to me. Different phrases in different seasons all spoke the same lie to my heart, “Don’t be yourself, nobody sees who you truly are”. The way to come out of this is by intimacy with people and Father God. This will restore full acceptance of who God created you to be.

Proverbs 26:18-19 says, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man who deceives his neighbor and says I was only joking.” And in Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” In these verses we see the power of our words. Our words can strengthen and speak life over people, or they can speak death. I wonder what my teenage years could have been if I had surrounded myself with friends who spoke life over me and encouraged me to be myself.

There is unimaginable power in our words. They shape the very destinies of the people who hear them! In light of this, let’s use our words to build up and not tear down! If we slip up and say something hurtful, let’s clean up the mess and continue to speak life into every person we encounter.

We are called to be a new generation who carries the heart of God for people. We have the opportunity to love unconditionally, and to restore all people into the full realization of who God has created them to be!