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Use Your Words

Once upon a time I thought writing was useless. Not collectively, but personally.

I realized I was a drop in no ordinary bucket, but a typhoon-y ocean. Take one drop away and what have you? An ocean. A darned good one at that. There are writers who put words in places that leave giant gaping holes in how you thought things were, or how you were, and you read it and change. There are writers who take those giant gaping holes that hurt so hard and good and sew them up with tiny, beautiful stitches so that later your old ugly scar makes you beautiful and real, and your story becomes something fabulous that you share to sew up giant gaping holes in other people.

And I did not think I had a part in that. My words rip holes the wrong way, or they don’t sew straight. Nobody misses that one drop in a typhoon-y ocean of words and writers and stories and conviction.

I learn slowly sometimes. My parents and my friends and my pastor and the radio can preach at me on repeat and I often won’t get it. Decades of sermons - pastoral and otherwise - and I still won’t get it.

Then I hear a song. I read a chapter, a blog, hear an offhand comment. Click. It all falls into place.

Do you follow?

I needed all those words, offhand, misdirected, overheard, and otherwise. I need those people who don’t know they’re teaching me and who don’t know they’re encouraging me and who don’t know they are calling me out and healing me and relieving my grief and making me smile.

I started writing again. It may be I will never know half of what I do. It is not mine to put those words in you where you need them. It is mine to write. Mine to tell and to be vulnerable and to know that this gift He gave that I love, it’s not for me. It’s for Him and for His.

But all this is something for you too.

You are using your words. You don’t know always when you are. You don’t say anything? It can encourage, or discourage. Your silence is a sweet relief - she won’t embarrass me after all! Your silence is cold - did they really mean to blow me off?

I’m not excusing those of us who take things too personally all the time. But your words are working whether you are or not. If you do not begin to clear them - to encourage and to filter and to edify - then your words will do the opposite for you, no effort needed.

I’m guilty, yes.

We all are.

Let me tell you another thing. Several things. These things are things people have said to me here, that have been those crucial drops in that ocean of good words.

*I cried at church when we were asked to discuss how we’re suffering. “Loneliness,” I said. Chris looked at me quietly. “You are always welcome in this community.” Deep sigh. Thank you, Chris.

*I interrupted a mountain-biker’s routine at a trailhead to ask about the way to the summit. Later, when he passed me on the trail he said, “You’re on the right track!”

*I texted my bestie when I arrived in the Springs. “Welcome home,” she replied.

*I sat on the sidewalk at a coffee shop enjoying watching the games in the parking lot, when Chris (not the same Chris) patted my shoulder and sat down next to me. “Hey G! When did you get here?!”

Those words are miniscule. Tiny. Just little phrases addressed at me not meant to make my day or welcome me to a new city, but just to throw a tiny ray of courage. And they went way farther than that. I don’t know if those people will ever know.

Peeps, use your words. They’re awesome. They’re strong. You will never know how far they reach, but I can promise you

- and I know this as surely as my name -

they. will. reach. far.

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