Fun fact, I don't know if you know this about me... but I love words. In a conversation, words matter to me. How they're said, which ones were chosen, etc. Bless Ben's heart, he's a verbal processor and I'm a word fanatic so you can only imagine how some of our disagreements go. Y'all pray for him. It's not his fault I'm crazy.
All that to say, words carry a lot of meaning.
A few months ago I was reading Donald Miller's latest book Scary Close. Now, if you know me you know I'm a huge Don Miller fan. HUGE. I've been reading his work for over a decade now and I've loved being able to read his story and simply adore how he writes so candidly about his successes, failures, relationships, spiritual health, etc. He is always a breath a fresh air and somehow, through his books, I feel like we're pals. I truly feel like I know him... REALLY WELL. Like best buds. Like let's roll out in our saturday sweats and grab some coffee and swap stories well. Sadly the feeling isn't reciprocated and we aren't family friends, but maybe one day... Alas I get off track.
Anyways, in Scary Close my bff Don was sharing about a low moment in his life when he felt like he was in a cycle of ruining every romantic relationship he started. He shared how after a broken engagement he started to believe that he was just horrible at relationships and that's just who he was. Don, the guy who was great with written words but bad with people. It was during this season when his friend and mentor Bob Goff (another person I'd love to be bff with) spoke words of truth to him. He simply said and kept saying, "Don, you're good at relationships." And every time Don saw or chatted with Bob, he'd hear those words of affirmation over and over and over again. Now, I make it sounds cheesy... because I'm not Donald Miller. But he goes on to say how Bob's words were powerful to him. Those words of affirmation changed him by helping him see that he had the capacity to live a better story when it comes to relationships. And of course (spoiler alert), any Miller fan knows that He is now married, living an authentic story with a small community of friends and family now.
Here's my point: True words carry power.
The power to heal. The power to change. The power to inspire. The power to shape and mold. The power to encourage. The power to connect. The power to restore. The power to reveal. There's a reason the book of James deals so much with the tongue. It's not our physical tongue that gets us into trouble, but rather our words and the meaning they carry. They have the ability to give KILL or give LIFE (prov. 18:21).
Life. What a gift.
Yesterday, I turned 30. WHAT?! I know... shocking. I already can feel my metabolism slowing down and everything is sagging a bit more. But yesterday, in spite of my newfound sag, I was given one of the greatest gifts I've ever received.
Words. Life giving words from friends and family members.
I woke up yesterday morning to Ben surprising me with a trip to go zip lining. Y'all. He nailed it. There's nothing I'd rather do than fly through the trees to swing in my 30th. And that would've been a gift enough, but on the car ride there he had me open the glove compartment and inside was a book.
A book full of words.
From friends and family and many of you.
Life giving words full of encouragement. Words affirming character traits you saw in me. Words capturing memories. Words that were healing and encouraging. Words that pushed me to love and see Jesus better. Words that reminded me of what God has done and is doing.
Pages and pages of words that I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around yet, but I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to those of you who wrote letters, Facebook messages, emails, texts and took a moment out of your day to give me the gift of words on my birthday. What a kind and thoughtful blessing you gave. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Because of you, I was reminded of how powerful words can be and encouraged to practice the discipline of using my words for good more often. And I hope this post does the same for you. Take a moment today and jot out an encouraging text/email, or better yet a hand written letter. Tell a friend how much you appreciate them. Affirm a good character trait in a co-worker. Speak life into your children.
Give the gift of life today, packaged in words.
Because let me just tell you, after reading all those words yesterday... I am changed.