Yesterday, I read a status update on Facebook.
A friend was wondering how to attempt to post the mammoth amount
of photos she took on a recent trip onto her blog.
I left a comment saying that she should be like any good blogger and call it a series 🙂
I am following my advice today and starting a series.
Let’s break the mold and call it a collection.
For quite awhile, words spoken to me over the years have crept back into my mind and even
Words can have an infinite shelf life.
The words spoken of the past may not occupy our daily thoughts but they possess enough
power to reenter our lives without warning and stake claim in our present, impacting
Spoken words can offer life or they can wound.
This collection will encompass both.
I have no idea the length or the breadth of this word collection.
I do know that in attempting to write about a subject so deep will draw out emotions but
it will also remind me of all the words I have misspoken or not spoken.
For this simple fact, I confess from the start that I have taken plenty of verbal missteps
over the years of opening my mouth.
I hope life-giving words outnumber my poor word choices but I don’t know.
I imagine this process will be like visiting the attic of my mind.
I will be reaching for words stored in dusty suitcases.
The locks may be rusty and difficult to open.
Other bags may spring open by simply a delicate touch.
I hope you will join me in looking at words spoken.
I pray you will pick up a broom with me and sweep up and dispose the harsh ones
and scoop and store the ones which bring hope.
At this point, you might be asking yourself, why is there a picture of a taco on the top of the page.
Here’s my answer.
When I was 11 or 12 years old, my father became a football referee as a hobby.
Many years later, he was a referee for the then Pac-10 conference, went on to officiate several
bowl games and was selected to be the president of the national association of sports officials.
Not too shabby but in those beginning days, he refereed at very small high schools.
One Friday night, my friend Marilyn and I traveled to a game with my dad and another official.
I won’t name the town but the high school in that area was so small, there were no bleachers to watch the game.
Spectators would stand on the sidelines and walk along with the action on the field.
Marilyn and I watched the game for a while but it was a challenge to see over the taller fans lining
We wandered around and found concessions and that kept us occupied in our own middle school world.
She with her blonde hair and me with my hair in black braids, we had been friends for as long as I could remember.
Soon it was halftime and we were engulfed in a swarm of hungry and urgent fans.
We crossed paths with a large group of high school girls.
Marilyn and I stood faces to belly buttons across from this assembly.
We looked up and immediately we saw the face of one lacking any warmth staring at us.
Before we could excuse ourselves, she open her mouth, fixed her eyes on me and
She must have swallowed or taken a breath as there was quite a pause before she aimed and fired in my direction,
I looked at the other faces surrounding her and they were all glued to my face with different degrees of grins upon their faces.
As if on cue, Marilyn and I each turned and looked at one another and exhaled a chorus of giggles.
We did an about-face and we ran off without looking over our shoulders.
I believe those two 11 or 12-year-old girls giggled because the words spoken were foolish.
I believe we both knew that the intended insult missed its target because it was wrong and misguided for a multitude of reasons.
I believe we laughed and ran away because we didn’t possess any power to do anything else.
Laughter can be the translated language of discomfort and awkward.
I thought those words didn’t hurt so many decades ago because they were off the mark
I had brushed them off me with a laugh but somehow they left a scar.
I remember thinking, if you are going to make fun of me at least get my ethnic group correct.
Yet, dare I say, more than 35 years later, I still remember.
Those two words cut through me.
The words lobbed towards me were not true.
Words exploded into the electric air of a sporting event revealing I didn’t belong to the
home or the visiting team.
I was an outsider and it needed to be noted.
I was different.
I ran from those words.
Marilyn and I both ran.
I wonder what words have caused you to run?
What words have been hit in your direction and you laughed along
as if it were simply a shared joke?
What words have cast a vision upon you that is not accurate?
What words have we uttered that could potentially crush identity?
I often ask my children if they like the nicknames we call them.
Because what I might think is cute and harmless might be stomping on how they
believe others see them.
I want my words to build and uplift not uproot and trample tender souls.
I think about that girl who called me an item on a fast food menu.
She didn’t know who she saw and maybe she was more afraid than she was mean.
I can forgive her for that.
I can forgive that her life experience had provided a limited lens to
witness the full expanse of the hues contained in this world.
What I know now is that I don’t have to run away from hard words.
I know to run to the Father who sees beyond my exterior to get to
the depths of who I really am.
A multifaceted creation designed by the Maker.
I am also learning to face those words with others.
I recently shared another story of words spoken with someone I have only known
a short time.
It was definitely a risk of being seen.
I wasn’t even finished retelling the experience when I noticed her head nodding.
She shared a similar story of spoken words.
When each of us gave voice to our shared word stories, it somehow lightened the
loads on our minds and hearts.
We all have word stories.
Today might I offer a few suggestions to help you not hide from hard spoken words
but how to give them a new place to reside. Choose one or a few.
- Tell the Father one by one each word spoken over you which has
left its mark on your mind and soul. Ask Him to help you forgive
the word giver.
Ask Him for new words.
Listen long enough to hear His words for you.
If this is hard, ponder how you think God would describe you.
Do you think he has a nickname of affection reserved just for you?
- Share the hard words with a trusted person.
Ask them what words they would use to describe you.
- Write each word on paper and in a safe place, set each word ablaze.
Let the smoke rise away from you and the ashes fall to the ground,
recognize and believe that the kindling of those words is now used up and has been rendered powerless.
- Anytime you recall your personal word spoken scenario, replace the damaging words with
words of truth.
Instead of “you taco”, what about “you friend of Marilyn” or “you happy young girl”
or “you daughter of Bill or daughter of the King”, “you are a part of My team!”
- If God causes you to recall words that may have caused another person to hurt,
ask for forgiveness.
Write a letter, make a telephone call or get face to face.
The word sorry can repair a broken wall.
Words come in all shapes and sizes.
If you have been the victim of abusive words, I pray that you will
seek help from a professional, who can help you find healing.
True story: earlier this week, I had decided to do a series entitled 100 words.
Each post would be 100 words on a given topic.
As you have read, this is not that series.
During my final hours of sleep this morning, I was writing this post
on my pillow, 100 words will have to wait for another day.
Thanks for reading to the end of this long post.
May I pray for you?
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are the giver of words and often we have
been the wielder and the recipient of words carrying
a lasting sting.
Help us to find grace and mercy to forgive ourselves and
to forgive those who moved their lips with damaging
words causing injury.
Please help us to release these words to you and not be
overcome by their weight in our lives.
Thank you that you have precious words to describe us.
May we hear your voice this week, whispering your words
of love and affection over our lives.
Help us to believe you speak the truth always.
God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart. I Samuel 16:7