What You Believe About God Can Hurt You

True or false?

“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you.”

Definitely false. Words can and do often hurt us.

Our bodies and minds are more tied together than the saying implies. Ever gotten a stomachache over words said to you, or words said by you? I have.

But what about what we believe? Can beliefs hurt us, too?


For example: You notice a poisonous snake curled up only a foot away from your own feet. But if the snake is in a glass enclosure because you’re at the zoo, you’re not afraid. Your body doesn’t react. You accurately believe you’re safe.

But if you see the same snake while on a hike in the woods? Your body will react differently. It believes you’re in danger, and appropriately so.

Our beliefs about our safety or danger affects our feelings and our actions.

So what about our beliefs about God? Do they affect our feelings of danger or safety? And our actions?

Think about your own feelings toward God. Some feel anger toward God. Many feel afraid. Or shamed. Or simply disinterested. Others feel at peace.

How we feel about God is based on our beliefs about God.

If we imagine God as a stalker waiting to catch us in one wrong move then bang!, or if we think God doesn’t care anything about us or our lives, we’re more likely to avoid God.

Who wants a relationship with a God like that?

But if we believe God to be full of love and goodness and filling us with the same, we’re more likely to pursue God and treat others with love and goodness as well.

So how do we know which beliefs are accurate?

That’s our journey.

We each have to search for the truth about God.

How can we find the truth? We stay open to learning more. We listen to how God communicates with us and in us. We read the Bible about God. We encounter God in creation. We see God in others. We pay attention to others’ experiences with God.  

I believe God encourages mindfulness, not ignorance.

Just as we dodge literal sticks and stones, we stay mindful to dodge untrue words and beliefs about God as well—they’re also painful.

We’ll still experience pain in this life. There is no escaping that. 

But by eliminating as many untrue beliefs as we can, we’ll also eliminate a few unnecessary hurts.

Seek the truth. As Jesus said, truth will set us free.

We can’t assume we’ve arrived at full knowledge about God.

We still have growing to do.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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12 thoughts on “What You Believe About God Can Hurt You

  1. Jean Wise

    Words and images are so powerful. I find articulating how I see God – sometimes wrestling and pondering the words – reveal so much about what I believe about God. One reasons why I like to journal – helps me define my beliefs and over time shows how God is opening my eyes and heart to see him in new ways.

  2. Jeanne Takenaka

    Awww, Lisa. You express this so well. We must be careful what we allow to form our beliefs about God. As I read your words, I kept thinking about one of my sons who is grappling with the idea of God, His existence, and faith. I appreciate the reminder to offer him resources along with the Bible that point to the truth of God’s existence.

    And this: “We’ll still experience pain in this life. There is no escaping that.

    But by eliminating as many untrue beliefs as we can, we’ll also eliminate a few unnecessary hurts.”

    Yes! Thanks for a thoughtful post.

  3. Donna

    You know, Lisa, I always hated that little poem about sticks and stones when I was a child. When I was hurt by other’s words, my mom always quoted that. But the thing is, bruises heal from sticks and stones, wounds from words, not so much, and not so easily, and they sure do hurt.
    But your point is well taken, we must be vigilant to challenge our beliefs about God when they inflict damage on ourselves and most often others.
    Perhaps that’s why the first piece of armor is the belt of truth.

  4. Karen Friday

    Powerful message, Lisa. Whoever came up with that phrase, “words will never hurt me” surely wasn’t thinking clearly. 🙂 Words can hurt and run deep. That’s why the Bible describes it as speaking death or life over ourselves and others. I pray to always seek the truth and know the truth about God. He is good and does goodness.

  5. Tammy Kennington


    I was sometimes bullied as a child and, though the “sticks and stones” phrase was cited at home, I still felt the sting of the words.
    May we remember words are powerful–and His word is the most powerful of all.


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