Sticks and Stones in Reverse

We have six boys and young men in our home. There is plenty of opportunity to hurt feelings, bruised egos, anger, frustration and so much more. Can you just imagine the situation with two only children, two firstborns and two babies of the family? Whew! It gets messy sometimes. 

But it’s a brave troop of boys who face the unknown with perseverance, conquering their fears through knees knocking, stumbling and getting back up again. It’s a wonder how they can maintain their cheerfulness each day. 

But we have one young man who has a wall around his heart. He isn’t going to let any one close to his heart. He ranges from grouchy to broody, emotionless to detached, sullen to grinch. Until one day…

Sticks and stones in reverse.


One day, I made the casual comment that since Christmas he was a happier boy. He shrugged. He didn’t feel any different than normal. Life went on as usual. 

Recently we had an issue with name calling. The boys would gang up and tease one boy. Another time they’d all pick on a different boy. Well I had enough of that! 

Last night, I had the boys make a list of ways they “bless” our home and family life. On the other side of the paper they were to write down the ways they “burden” our home and family life. For example a child who gets out of bed immediately when woken is a blessing. A child who needs to be woke up three or four times is a burden. We brainstormed ideas from picking up their clothes, helping with meals or clean up as great blessings. However, name calling, leaving messes for others, and peeing on the toilet seat are all burdens. They got my drift. 

When they finished, I had them read their list aloud. There on my broody childs list of ways he blesses the home was “happiness”. I asked for an explanation. He replied, “I am always smiling and cheerful. Remember you said I was happier since Christmas”. 

I was floored. His paradigm had shifted! The sourpuss, grouch, grinch child was given one straw of happiness and he held on for dear life. So glad for him!!! This is “sticks and stones” in reverse!! He had a new identity. 

So very humbling for me. I was the one who had him labeled “grouch”. I was the one who called him “broody” and “emotionless”. Not out loud; no never! But I thought them. And maybe just maybe–no lets be honest– probably that clouded my view of his ability to change. Ugh! I could cry.

So with a humble heart I share this story of hope and change for all of us. 

Let’s see the good that God sees in others. 

Let’s build up the “unloveable”. 

Let’s encourage the “weak” and “broken”.

Let’s forgive all of them and ourselves. 

Let’s grow and change with uplifting words, affirmations and Gods blessings !! He doesn’t hold us back. We do it to ourselves. And if that is true than we can change–just like the kids–we can play sticks and stones in reverse!

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