I have loved words my whole life. Books, poetry, song lyrics, inscriptions, conversations, prayers. Not yet realizing their power, words shaped me from an early age and became a part of me at my core. I spent my time telling stories, keeping journals, reciting Shel Silverstein at the top of my lungs for anyone who would listen. (We have video of the latter, and it’s fairly embarrassing.)
Each time I sat down to write, I felt good about putting pen to paper. I had created something. It always welled up from somewhere unknown and bubbled out of me, onto the page and into the world, whether anyone else would ever read it or not. Looking back, I had no idea I’d ever write to share thoughts intentionally with others. I had no inkling of a space called mollymadonna.com. I knew I wanted to write books somehow, but I didn’t know how I’d ever walk that path.
Over time, I grew up. My words did, too.
Fastforward to now, and I am constantly exploring the power of words–written and spoken–in my adult life. I have more influence than I’ve ever had, if only because there are two precious little people who cling to my words and depend on them to shape how they feel about themselves, about each other, and about the world, every, single day.
The weight of responsibility that I feel to love well through words grows greater all of the time. Recognizing how much my own words and their delivery matter to our children continues to stretch me as I evaluate my communication with everyone I meet.
Sometimes, I get these words just right, and quite often, I get them woefully wrong.
When I speak out of urgency, frustration, worry or exhaustion, no one gets the best version of me. I know that I’ve been entrusted a voice that I might steward it well, and I’m challenged on many days to refine and revise and edit–just like I did writing papers all through high school and college.
As it is with so many things in life, honing words in person or in print are muscles I need to exercise regularly to keep fit. The way that I speak to Jason, our kiddos, or the customer service agent on the other end of the phone actually makes a difference.
I have the ability to speak life or death every time I open my mouth…every time I pound out letters on the keyboard.
I love the weight of this responsibility, and yet I find it one of my greatest challenges. There are moments every day when I have to work harder than I’d like to admit to speak life-giving words. And there have been so many times when I know my words weren’t life-giving at all. Human nature, I realize, but I’m working hard to shift this reality to something better–something that could honor God and be found worthy of His affirmation.
This is why #gracefulDecember comes as no surprise to me now, for such a time as this.
There just isn’t room in this broken and hardened world for me to take liberties with my words.
I know we live in a time and culture defined by individuals pursuing freedom of self expression and the right to “be” whoever and whatever they want to be. I know that the popular thing to do is to preach tolerance and self-discovery and carte blanche on everything, everywhere. And I disagree.
If I expect that I might have an impact or influence on my children or the world, I am also going to be sure to set my words and actions on something foundational, moral, Biblical, and perhaps, unpopular. I did some deep digging and self-exploring for a handful of years when I was younger, and where I ended up in that pursuit was unhappy, unfulfilled, mad at the world and confused. I thought maybe my own way was a better way, so I turned my back on Truth for a while to find it.
Thank goodness words and story win my heart every time, because the story at the end of that path would have been a dark and dreary one, and the story God was moving me to return to is full of light.
Pursuing the story of Light in a darkened world is not a small or easy choice, but a redemptive one. This is why I’ll keep loving words and trying to love others through them, too.
In the midst of a busy holiday season, there are pressures on everyone that don’t exist at other times of the year. There are pressures we don’t see when we’re brushing past others in the grocery store after work or in the hallway at school drop-off.
Some people are coasting on the sheer joy of the holidays, but I’ve not met too many of those. Most of us are doing our best to be joyful, to be “Christmassy,” to live in a spirit of giving and charity and hope–all while juggling things beneath the surface or behind the scenes that we don’t share in the check out line or out loud at a holiday party.
As we wander through this season of Advent, moving ever-closer to Christmas and the hopeful light it casts on any of us waiting to receive it, let’s not forget that this time of year brings so many other things to light, too. Loneliness. Loss. Heartache. Financial burdens. Challenging family dynamics. Time constraints. Deep, hard-to-face emotion.
Our words have power–perhaps more in this vulnerable holiday season than at any other time of year. Let the words that we have for the world and for one another be filled with grace in these precious days. We must hold them thoughtfully and offer them up with the hope that, if only for just one person, they might speak light and life in this graceful December.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Ps. 19.14
celebrating this, my 500th post to you, and the opportunity you’ve afforded me to share the words on my heart, here in this space, for so long. may they always speak in a way that honors, uplifts, encourages, and gives life!