Y’all know this little blog is my soapbox… just remember that these are only my thoughts. Turns out I don’t really know much. I just like writing to you.

So tonight I’m thinking about words. I’ve had a life long love affair with words, written, spoken, twisted, loaded, crafted and sculpted words. I love particular words (believe, lovely, gazebo, ethereal, remedy, whimsy, kismet) and particular collections of words (the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses, the ravages of generosity added to love, miles to go before I sleep). I commit them to memory, keep them, replay them in my mind, sneak them into conversations. I carry them. Words are sticky- they ride with you, become part of you, and remain.

I can also remember with alarming accuracy so many of the words other people have spoken to me- words that stung, words that healed, words that lifted. I’ve fallen victim to the damning weight of well-intended words from the mouths of people who truly wanted to help me, to offer wisdom, but forgot that our calling is to speak love before correction. I’ve rested in the confidence placed in me by a few well spoken words of encouragement, and been shaped by guidance offered gracefully and with carefully chosen words. There are words that were thrown at me thoughtlessly that still echo in my head whenever I face certain situations, and words that were given to me intentionally that I cling to when I need to be reassured. I can map my life in words.

Words are powerful. I think we owe it to each other to remember that power, to acknowledge the responsibility we have, to choose our words carefully and know when to speak them. In truth, I have very little of value to say – my experiences are limited, and viewed through my own tainted lenses and obnoxious biases, and I am often wrong and I am often afraid. But I have a big God, full of flawless words, who every now and then will give me the opportunity to speak, the words to use, and the confidence to say them. My understanding is, well, lame, but His is perfect. I’m a selfish kid, and what I see when I look at you is often as much about me as it is about you, but what He sees is someone loved. If I can speak with any small bit of that love, if I can be a vessel for words that will encourage, will build, will strengthen, or challenge through love, then I hope I have the emotional wherewithal to say them.

I guess my prayer is that our intention is always first to love. I pray that as we are figuring out how to live in community with each other, to speak into each others lives, we are given the wisdom to differentiate between our opinions and God’s truth, our feelings and His love, our thoughts and His will, and that we choose our words accordingly. If we can focus on loving each other with the sort of love that is patient, kind, doesn’t envy or boast, isn’t proud, doesn’t anger easily, keeps no record of wrongs… I trust that God will follow through on His promise to continue the good work he began, use us to strengthen and sharpen each other, and grow us as we live this thing out.

I absolutely believe we should continue to lift each other up and tell each other the truth, and I hope we remember to do so with an extraordinary amount of care and after having quadruple checked our intentions. I hope I can seek God first in my relationships, and remember to pray first and act second. I’m often pretty lazy about that. There is a load of good advice floating around out there, and some of the best I’ve been given looks like this: Words are powerful. Choose them with your whole heart. When you can, encourage the good instead of pointing out the bad. Seek to build. Love each other.