I have been sitting silently. Waiting for words when none would come.
When they do come, they don’t seem to stick around long enough these days to gather out of my mind and paste onto the page in front of me.
I’m left utterly speechless when it matters most.
And yet, in the heat of the moment, when anger or some other uncontrolled emotion bubbles up and boils over, I find myself saying all the wrong words. Hurtful, hateful, impatient words.
This, I think, is the way of words—too many words when I need only a few and too little when I need a mountain of them.
I love words and I hate words
At the heart of who I am sits a lover of words. I simply adore that something seemingly unexplainable can be clarified with words.
Synonyms and antonyms are my favorite; If one word leaves an ambiguous meaning, and the hearer is left unsettled, or uncertain, then another has the power to bring unmistakable distinction. Words can bridge a gap and bring entire groups of people together.
But, there are other words that I don’t love. I’m sure you’re familiar with them…
They’re the burning embers that spark when tempers fly. The ones that set flame to kindling that has been building in your heart. They feel so good to release in the moment and promise vindication—watching the blaze burning. However, the smoldering pile of ash left in the aftermath brings no warmth, only destruction.
Fire has a way of doing that. It leaves devastation and a barren wasteland, much like spiteful, ugly words that we let loose.
There are single conversations I’ve spent a lifetime wishing I could undo. Like a fire out of control in a forest, our tongue is capable of so much destruction.
…The tongue is a small part of the body, but it boasts of great things. Consider how small a spark sets a great forest ablaze. James 3:5
Words left unsaid
My dad left this world in December and went to be with Jesus. I’ve been thinking a lot about our last words. I feel peace and unrest about it all at once. I was given a gift of time with him in the end and yet, I don’t know that I said all the right words.
Especially towards the end, I felt like all I could say was, “I love you.” It never sounded like enough for the man that gave me my sense of humor, ability to put pen to paper, and the love of books and words.
I was so tired emotionally and physically that I didn’t know how to be eloquent. How do you sum up a lifetime of emotion, love, heartache, and feelings in an evening?
So, here I sit, awkwardly holding all the perfect words I wish I would’ve handed over to him for his journey home.
I’ve learned that words left unsaid can haunt us in the wee hours of the night.
Words have power
I’ve often told my kids that words have power. I’ve told them that their words hold power over themselves and other people. And although I’ve taught them this repeatedly, I’m just now learning it firsthand. I’m seeing the power my words have in their life and the lives of those around me. I can make someone’s day by being kind and asking thoughtful questions. Or I can break a spirit with an ugly comment.
We all hold this great power.
Be careful little tongue what you say…Words hold the power over life and death.
They can hurt.
They can heal.
They can save.
They can deceive.
What words are we believing and living?
Our hearts can be damaged in this world of fickle agendas and social media, where people can be so hateful. At a time when so many words are being thrown at us—honestly, faster than we can think—I am reminded to view the words I am hearing, saying, and thinking through the filter of truth.
When I find myself spiraling down into thoughts of fear, anxiety, or depression over unhelpful words, I question myself:
“Whose words am I allowing to have power in my life and what am I believing because of them?”
We hear so many words in one day that we barely realize how easily each one affects us. Small words turn into entire trains of thoughts, which eventually lead to actions. Words truly hold the power to steer our lives. So, it rings true that if we want to change our lives, we must change our words; the words we listen to, believe, and the words we speak, internally and externally.
If the words that are controlling your heart and mind today are not of Jesus, whose words are they, and do they deserve a space in your life?
I pray these questions will give you clarity, as they have for me, every time you evaluate the words that you’re processing and believing.
As always, friend, thank you for stopping by,