A Love for Words

For as long as I can remember, I have been a bookaholic. I love to read. Karen books, Baby Sitters Blub, Nancy Drew, Christy Miller, Hunger Games (RIP Primrose Everdeen), Twilight, C.S. Lewis, Jen Hatmaker – I’ve read them all. When most “normal” kids would get in trouble, their parents would take away their privilege to watch TV, play computer games, play with their friends, etc. Not mine. When I got in trouble, my parents would ground me from my books. They would literally take my books away from me, hide them in some place unknown, and I would be forced to do something boring like watch a television show or play with my siblings. Torturous, I know. This may explain why even in my adult, married years, we still don’t own a TV.  Or have Wifi. People come over, look around, with obvious perplexed looks on their faces, and ask what we barbaric, Amish people do for fun. I usually fumble through my answer saying something like “um, we just uh…read books…and play dominos…and sleep and…read books….and….stuff.”

I just can’t help it. I love to read.

But I think the real reason I love to read is because I have a deep love for words. And the reason I love words is because they behold a compelling power to create, inspire, bring change, move things forward, heal, redeem, give hope, breathe life, to tell a story. Words have real power.

And on the negative side, words also have the power to destroy. Words tear apart marriages, spread gossip, inflict wounds, dissolve unity, shake confidences, create grudges, bitterness, resentment, and hate.

I have recently been heavily convicted about my usage of words. I am a girl, which means that I am infected with the disease that all girls have: we love gossip. We love to hear it, we love to know it, and we love know that we know it when someone else doesn’t, and we love to share it…but only with our closest friends, of course. I don’t care what you say or who you are, you experience this on some level. Gossip gives people the false elevation of feeling important. It boosts your self-esteem to be “in the know” about who is sleeping with who, who said what, who did what, etc.

And then there is Gossip’s best friend, whose name is Negativity. We have disguised and honored her in the name of Being Real. Heaven forbid we be the “rainbows and butterflies” type of person who might actually have something nice to say, so we counteract that by becoming a Negative Nancy, giving ourselves permission to criticize other people freely, and pat ourselves on the back about it, because at least we are “being real” and not one of those annoyingly fake positive people.

I have seen so much of this in myself and it is absolutely disgusting. This stuff spreads like wildfire and is oddly so acceptable. I’m sure there are several root causes for this particular sin issue, but for me, I believe the real issue is a need to feel significant. When I can criticize someone else’s faults and shortcomings in light of all my glowing strengths, talents and abilities, I cannot help but to bask in the glorious awesomeness of who I am. When in reality, I am not believing Jesus for who He says I am, and in turn seek that significance in other places.

Luckily, there is good news for this, and this good news comes in the form of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I, Katie Foster, am a wretched sinner, who on my own, have no possible chance of having a relationship with a perfect God. But because God loves me, and the rest of the world, He sent His Son, whose name is Jesus, to the earth the live a perfect life that I couldn’t and die a torturous death on a cross that I wouldn’t, bearing the sin and shame of all mankind. Three days after his burial, Jesus did what no one else can do; He rose from the dead, conquering death. The Bible says that all who believe that this is true are given a relationship with God and will spend eternity in heaven with Him.

This good news not only changes a believer’s eternal destiny, it also changes the way we live our lives here on earth. When someone accepts Christ, they are brought from death into life and given a new identity. This frees us from having to search for this anywhere else. In Christ, a Christian is secure, blameless, loved, holy, and significant. When I choose to live in the reality and freedom Jesus offers me, I am secure in my identity. My significance is found in Him, because He loved me. He chose me, He sought me out, and He bought me with a price. This changes me.

I am thankful that God is convicting me of the way I use my words. Every month, James and I pick a word that we want to focus on. This month, our word has been encouragement. We are trying to find ways to be intentional in encouraging other people, using our words to give life and hope. When I am secure of who I am in Christ, I am free to lavishly build people up, encourage them, love them, and to speak life. Words have power, and we all have them, so we might as well use them for the glory of God and to build His Kingdom.

For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Matthew 12:34

Until next time,

Katie

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