“Stop it! The power of life and death is in your tongue!!”
Usually those words are spoken in response to something we say to others. We should realize that what we say has the power to speak life or death into someone’s fragile heart. Not often are we reminded that we also have the power to speak life or death into our own.
Our hearts have long ago been damaged and destroyed by words not our own, we figure they wouldn’t even notice the difference of life and death anyway. And in some moments, the words of life feel most like death. It is so foreign. So sharp. So pointed. They are so contrary to everything we have come to believe about ourselves that we are appalled and offended by their flavor.
I won’t lie, (I say that, but then again, that’s all I seem to do to myself on a regular basis…but, I won’t lie to you. That’s better), I am horrible about speaking life to myself. But for you, for you I want to breathe life into, speak truth into you, love you, and push you to be a better you than you are now, and realize the greatness that is you already. I’ll tell you that you are lovely. That you make me laugh and that you’ve got important things to say and offer the world.
But for me? Negative. I believe that I peaked when I was 7 and its been a steady but constant decline ever since. I don’t believe that I am lovable or lovely. I don’t believe that people actually want to be around me. I don’t believe that I really have anything to bring to the table when anyone else has pulled up a chair. And I tell myself these things often.
This past weekend, sitting in the middle of the floor wrapped up like a freaking glow worm, I said something not entirely unusual about myself. Chances are it wasn’t good and to tell you the truth I don’t even remember what it was. What I do remember, however, is the response I received from a dear friend. She didn’t try to sugar coat it. She didn’t mince her words. She didn’t even try to figure out the most gentle way to say it. She just put her hand over mind and told me to stop it. She raised her voice, in a firm but not unloving way, and exclaimed that my tongue has the power of life and death. She wanted me to stop speaking lies and settling for death. She sees things in me that I can’t, or maybe choose not to, see. She wants life for me. She wants freedom for me. She wants me to bring whatever I have to the table, no matter how small or insignificant I think it may be. She wants to hear what I have to say when I don’t know how to say it. She sends me messages out of the blue, without knowing that I am curled up on the floor of my bathroom reminding myself to breathe. Awkward silence doesn’t seem to phase her. And the more I try to push her away, the more determined she seems to stay. Now, don’t get me wrong, she isn’t perfect. And maybe that’s the beauty of it…she isn’t perfect and doesn’t expect me to be either. That is a life giving thing. She sits silently with me on patios and just lets there be silence. She doesn’t offer simple cliches or suffocate me with out of context scripture. She lets words be jumbled and scattered and repeatedly assures me “no, it’s ok. you’re ok.” And the funny thing? I start to believe her.
So words matter. Your words to me matter. Your words to you matter. My words to you matter. My words to me matter. And while I still haven’t quite got it down yet, I am working on it. And you help. Call me out. Shut me up. Remind me of true things when all the lies are disguised as truth. I love you and I need you. I need your words to help my words. My words are still a work in progress and I am trying to believe they are worth hearing. Because I cherish you so much, I would never want to do a disservice to you with my words. So be patient. I’m trying. I won’t apologize for the silence anymore. But I also won’t allow myself to stay there. Here’s to the power of life in my words. Here’s to the power of breathing and speaking life to you. And here is to speaking life to me.
Let’s never shut up about life, ok?