Tag Archives: words

Day 12: Words (31 Days of Simple Truths)

20151012_220919I love words. I always have. I don’t even have to know what they mean to enjoy saying them and pondering them.

They’re powerful. The right combination at the right moment can quite literally change the world.

Yet words can be really frustrating too. Trying to find the right ones, and the right moment to communicate them, for starters. But more—whatever their dictionary definition may be, words tend to take on a life of their own. They become “buzz words.” They develop volumes of connotations and suggestions depending on the context of who says them or what other subjects they were linked to. The speaker intends them one way; the listener hears them in a completely different way.

There are always those stubborn few who don’t care if the words have taken on another meaning or not; they’re going to say what they want to say, and that’s that. But for the rest of the wordsmiths, we wrestle with this. We are careful with this. Because if we’re not, we end up isolating the very people we were hoping to reach.

It’s a fine line. There’s always going to be someone who misunderstands or misconstrues; if you worry too much about them, you’ll tie yourself up in knots and compromise your voice. Still, it is ultimately on the writer, the speaker, the vision caster to carefully weight the words they want to say, to consider if they are only using those words because they are comfortable and familiar, or because they are truly the best words to reach the hearts of the listeners, truly the words we most wanted to say.

It’s a huge responsibility to carry, one we cannot take lightly.

31daysOfSimpleTruths

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Speaking About God

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Mommy, a few weeks ago at church, all the kids were saying that God sets us on fire to clean us out.  And I said He didn’t.  I was the only who said that.

Her sweet face looked up at me, those wide eyes seeking to understand.  I hear more than curiosity in her voice.  I hear the bewilderment of being the only one with a differing opinion, the sense of being too little to know how to speak up.  And just ever so slightly, the tinge of fear.  Could this be true?  Would God do this?

I look at this precious one, so like me that it absolutely terrifies me some days, and I begin to explain, slowly, pausing so she can ask more questions if she needs to.  I explain that, no, God is not going to light a match and literally set her on fire. (Lots of relief in her eyes here.)  And I explain that it is a picture to help us understand.  We talk about gold and how it has to be cleaned up and how they use heat to bring the impurities to the surface.  And I tell her how the Bible says God is a consuming fire – a picture for us to understand how He shapes our hearts. (I do realize there is more to that imagery, but she’s 4, so one thing at a time.)  When we come to Him, He helps us remove meanness and selfishness and other “icky things” from our hearts.

I see the understanding set in, and I am about to leave the conversation there when I feel that familiar nudge in my spirit.  What is the one thing above all you want your daughter to carry in her heart all the days of her life?

In a split second, I remember all the years of striving – trying to be pure enough, right enough, worthy enough, good enough.  Somehow the messages of needing to be better outnumbered or at least out-shouted all the messages of being perfectly loved just as I am.  It has only been very recently that my heart has been able to truly understand grace, and even then, it is an uncomfortable process at times to let the wonder and simplicity of it fully consume me.

So I look at my treasure and say, “Do you know the most important thing you can ever know about God?”  I see the longing spring into her eyes.

“He is love.  [Referring to a previous conversation we’d had] Do you remember how the devil wanted to be powerful?  He wanted to be God? [She nods.] The devil doesn’t understand that love is most powerful of all.  And even when you mess up, God loves you so much.  You can’t do anything to change that.”

The smile that breaks across her face is like the sunrise.  And she says, “Let’s sing about love.”  So we do.  And she runs off to play with her brother.

This exchange with my daughter (which her brother also sat there absorbing) has left me thinking a lot about the language we use to speak about God. How much have I said over the years that has actually made people afraid to know Him?  How much have I said that made people feel Christians must have a secret language, one that is bizarre and difficult to decode?

Not that everything Jesus said was always perfectly clear to every listener, but He most certainly was not out of reach to anyone except those ignorantly certain of their own rightness – something I absolutely do not want to be.

So I am seeking a new language, first so I can be a healthy part of the spiritual process for my children, and then so I communicate about Him to the world around me in a way that represents Him as He truly is, a way that brings them nearer to His heart, His “fire” and not farther.

 

 

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Chasing Stories

This week, I am beginning a writing course – Story101.

I haven’t shared this with many people because so far when I have, I’ve been met with concerned stares and well-intentioned  “are you crazy?” responses.  And I know it’s because they genuinely care.  My life is ridiculously busy – two small children, two intensely demanding part-time jobs, ministry within a blossoming church plant, marriage.  Most weeks, I spin like a tornado from Sunday into Saturday, pausing for a few hours (if I’m lucky) to catch my breath before beginning the cycle again.  Why oh why would I add another thing to my plate when I’m already dropping my food every time I try to take a bite?

Because for nearly seven years, I have not done a single thing to take a step towards my passions.  Not. One. Single. Thing.

And I would not go so far as to say the time has been wasted because it hasn’t.  I got married (yes, please).  I gave birth to two precious treasures (and now I know what it is like to hold the world in my arms).  I have stepped through the doors that have opened and as a result, I’ve had my character sharpened, some skills refined.  So, yes, I have done some roundabout things that are undoubtedly important.

But there are two things that unleash a fire in me, that unlock the heart of God to me, that speak of life and love and adventure and mystery waiting.  Two things in which I lose myself and find myself all at once.

Music.  And words.

I should be pursuing the first as well, but I will transparently admit that particular passion has been the source of tremendous wounds that are still gaping and so I can’t.  Not right now.

But words have been churning in me, and I know in my bones it is time to write again.  To write seriously.  To embrace the discipline, the creativity, the vulnerability.

So, do I have time for a writing course?  No, not really.  But this time I am choosing to be crazy rather than to go crazy.  Because I need to create.  I need to stand on tiptoes straining for a glimpse of the eternal.  I need to try and capture with words what words are ultimately hopeless to express.

And I wonder, what is locked up in you that needs to be released?  What is buried under the cluttered layers of ordinary?  What should you tap into your inner crazy for the courage to pursue again?  Don’t go crazy with the wondering of what might have been, with the pent up bottling of passion.

Today is as good a day as any to chase your story.

 

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Reaching for Words

Sometimes you just have to write.  Even if you are not sure what you want to say, still the words beckon you.

To know they are still there.

To feel you are alive.

To try to grasp the eternal before the mundane manages to sweep it away.

To not lose touch with your heart again.

Two short weeks ago, I sat at the symphony, awaiting the performance of a piece I had long loved but never experienced in person. I watched as the stage began to fill with instruments and players and singers, until every available space was filled.  The sheer size of the choir and orchestra in front of me caused my heart to skip a beat.

It was like the anticipation of a first kiss.

And when the timpani and gong pounded their first beat, the voices soared, the instruments sang – I was pulled into a wall of sound with a force that caused my dormant heart to spring to life again.

This is why I must write.  Because with the absence of music and poetry and mesmerizing words, passion slumbers inside me.  And I do not want her to slumber any longer.  I want her to burn.  I want to brush up against the wonder of the eternal, to see something majestic created from dust, for my emptiness to explode with color and sound and motion.

I will reach for the words chasing me, find my voice, find my song, find my heart.

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