“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This popular childhood mantra is used as a bulwark against verbal assaults. Words matter.
Throughout history, stones have been used to tell stories. Ancient cultures arranged massive stones (megaliths) for sacred contexts. The pyramids in Egypt and South America, the numerous monuments near Bouar in the Central African Republic, the Stonehenge in England, and the Tatetsuki stone circles in Japan are some examples of these ancient stones that tell a story.
Ancient Hebrews also used stones (masseboth) to tell the stories of how God interacted with the Hebrew people during significant points in history. For instance, Jacob set up a stone and declared it to be the house of God (Genesis 28:22), Moses ordered twelve stones be erected at the base of Mt. Sinai and sacrificed to God in honor of freedom (Exodus 24:26-27), and Joshua similarly had stones erected when the people of Israel entered the Promised Land (Joshua 4:9).
In the Christian tradition, Jesus seems to refer to himself as a rejected stone and cornerstone (Matthew 21:42). Later, the author of Ephesians also referred to Jesus as a cornerstone, the foundation of the household of God likely referred to in Psalm 118:22.
Both the Hebrew and Christian traditions seem to affirm a significant understanding of stones telling the story of how God interacts with humanity.
The imagery of story stones was extended to one of Jesus’ close friends and followers, Peter. The name Peter comes from the same Greek word that means rock, Petra. Jesus referred to Peter as the stone that would expand the household of God (Matthew 16:18).
Peter expanded the imagery of story stones as he told the story of God invading humanity in the person of Jesus, a living stone (1 Peter 2:4). Peter then extends the living stone imagery to all who follow Jesus and his example (1 Peter 2:5).
You are a living stone, and you have a sacred story to tell.
It doesn’t take much for someone to silence a story. Stories are silenced every day with flippant comments, derogatory remarks, microaggressions, and blatant oppression. These stones of destructive force are thrown without regard, and generally out of fear.
The sticks and stones that break your bones are not your true story. Despite the stories you may have heard that label you unworthy, you are part of a grand story – a story centered in hope and love.
Your story doesn’t begin or end with you.
Just like the sacred story stones you have a story to tell. You are a living stone. Tell your story.
Tony Clyde is a veteran leader with over 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults in non-profit and corporate sectors. Tony is an expert at helping people recognize and remove the personal barriers holding them back. Through mentoring, training, and coaching Tony helps people and organizations achieve their true potential.
Tony is an entrepreneur, launching several new programs, and consulted with churches and other organizations on starting new programs, using technology, teaching effectively, and leadership. Tony is launching a new project called the Throwing Stones Project. The Trowing Stones Project partners with organizational leaders to facilitate environments of full inclusion for people who are LGBTQ+. Tony is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University with a Master’s in Education and is in progress on a doctorate in organizational leadership. Tony’s specialty is in authentic leadership, personal coaching, and creativity.
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