Dana over at Roscommon Acres has started a new group writing project called Words Matter. Dana’s words have long blessed me, not only as I educate my children, but also as I think about matters of government and culture. Since the tragic death of her little Mattias in December, her honest and open words about their grief have touched my heart and brought me to my knees in prayer for her and for many grieving families. Her words have mattered greatly to me.
I am good with words. I am glib, quippy, and occasionally very amusing. I can craft a well-turned phrase, frame an argument just so, and too often pack an insult like a brick and hurtle it full force at someone’s head.
I am good with words.
Words are the medium to express thoughts, feelings, or ideas. Words have the power to reveal who we are and what we think. As a Christian, I’m called on to encourage my fellow believers through words, to share my faith through words, and to express my love and worship of God through words.
Unfortunately, I have found that what I’m really good at is hiding behind words. Rather than revealing who I am, I use words to distract and disarm. Instead of the simple, honest words that show my heart, my struggles, or my sin, I tend to rely on words primarily to persuade others to my way of thinking. Not a dishonorable use of words, but perhaps not the best choice for my primary use of words.
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I spend all day every day speaking to my children, using words to teach, to inspire, to correct, to encourage, and to cajole. But I wonder how many words I use to reveal who I am, how I struggle, what I hope for? Am I revealing my heart to my children or just attempting to shape my children to my desired end?
When I’m speaking of myself, I tend to pick my words with excruciating care, so that I reveal precisely the bit of information I want to reveal. While not dishonest, my words aren’t exactly “the whole truth.”
What I think I’m getting at is that while words do indeed matter, they are only a tool to express what truly matters: the human heart. Of course, even our hearts are deceitful, and so words will only go so far in revealing what we cannot fully understand ourselves. But I do pray that God would give me the courage and boldness to use words — a tool I wield rather adeptly — to open my heart and not just to try to change others’ minds.
For more posts in the “Words Matter” group project, go to Roscommon Acres.