I am a self professed wordie.
I think I made up that term, but in the same way a "foodie" is fascinated by all things food, I carry that same interest for all things words. How they sound rolling off the tongue, the meaning they carry, the power they posses when you string them with others, etc. I've been this way for as long as I can remember.
I was a really shy child growing up. I didn't do much actual talking, but one thing I did do, was think...alot. In my thoughts, words had depth and would draw my imagination to uncharted territories. In high school I covered my room in my favorite words, most of them, words that I felt got little attention, but were deep vessels of meaning. In a way, I suppose my introverted, hormone, and anxiety ridden self, identified with those words amd felt at home being surrounded by them. I was home schooled so my mom was the only teacher I had until I took online college courses, and it was the words of my professors that began to bring to light that I could use my love for words in more ways than I imagined. After we received the prenatal diagnosis of our first born son, it was the idea of a blog that felt like the right way to process and heal.
Words have been my constant companion, and I've tasted and seen how they can be used to bring life. At the same time, the scars of my deepest emotional wounds, are reminders of the power words have when misused.
We might not all consider ourselves "wordies", but I have no doubt that each of us has been affected deeply in one way or another by words. It could have been the opinion of a parent that sent you a message that you've carried with you your whole life. It could be the words of others that you've built your worth around, and you are exhausted from the constant battle to uphold your value on a foundation that feels as though it could crumble at any moment. It could be words that have escaped your own mouth that you wish you could take back...
The Bible talks extensively about the power of words.
The tongue has the power of life and death and those who eat of it will eat it's fruit.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
We serve a God who literally spoke life into existence and then gave His creation the ability, the privilege, and the power to do the same. Words are a gift from our maker, but like most of the gifts God has given us, the enemy loves to pervert and distort.
Annoying. Insignificant. Failure. Poor. Stupid. Bad. Dirty. Worthless. Ugly. Alone. Unlovable.
He knew we would buy into the enemies lies. He knew we would misinterpret insecurity for strength. He knew we would slew words at each other that would leave lasting marks on our souls. He knew we would speak when we should have listened. He knew we would hide behind a false shield of technology and feel lifted by pushing others down. He knew we would yell at our children. He knew we would hurt most, the ones we care most about.
He knew we would misuse this life giving gift... and we all have.
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us...
The Word... the one Word who held the power to break the chains of every word that has been cast on us or that we've identified with. That Word chose to cast himself into and identify with us, so He could save us.
The Word that changed our status from slave and orphan to free and child of God.
Do we grasp this?
In our relationships with one another, having the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
As we begin this season of reflection on what it means that our creator, wrapped himself in human flesh, I want to challenge us to examine our own hearts, for the mouth can only speak what is in our hearts (Matthew 12:34) and also examine ourselves to see what words, what lies, we may still be holding on to when the name of Jesus gives us the power to break every chain.
Let us raise our children to understand the power of their words. Let us model for them words that speak life, but also when we make mistakes, let us humble ourselves before them and teach them how we can also hurt with our words, and what it looks like seek forgiveness. With our 3 year old this looks like explaining that life words, are words that make our hearts and the hearts of others happy, but death words, are words that make hearts feel sad. With our older boys this looks like explaining that self deprecating speech is unacceptable because when we put ourselves down, we are putting down the workmanship of the creator of the universe and the same goes for how we speak about others. We change the conversation from what you think/feel about yourself (or others) to asking them how do you think God thinks/feels about you and we help them find scripture that supports the truth of their identity. When you hear them say something kind or encouraging to their siblings or friends, point it out to them, tell them that they just spoke building words and made that person feel loved and encouraged. When you hear them speaking unkindly, don't just tell them to stop, but take the time to help them think through what they just said and ask them if they built up or tore down with those words. We want to raise kids who will become adults who assess their words and examine their hearts. At the end of the day, ask your kids when they built someone up that day and ask them if there was a time they tore someone down with their words?
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Our end goal here is not just behavior modification, we want to raise kids who will speak Jesus to their generation. Kids whose hearts will break over seeing someone being torn down, and kids who will know The Word can heal them from every piercing wound they will suffer from the words of a hurting and broken world.
The truth is we cannot look at Jesus and not be changed. In this season of celebration and giving, let us remember that the greatest gift has already been given and the greatest gifts we can give to those in our lives is to be His hands and His feet, and His words.
Here's to many mission minded conversations this Christmas season!
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12