I wonder how many of us believe in the power of our words, that what we speak aloud can have a profound effect on what occurs in our lives. I have heard variations of that all my life. My mom used to tell my siblings and I that what we say in life is what happens. She was always encouraging us to speak our dreams out loud, to say both playfully and firmly what we wanted out of life, no matter how ridiculous or far-fetched it may have seemed. In the same token she warned us about negative thinking, and about saying any self-defeating mantras.
I know the “self-help” world is full of positive-thinking maxims but recently I’ve been reflecting more on the power of my words as a Christian. Is there more power in my tongue than I realize? I am not talking about words that harm people (the tongue is mightier than the sword) or anything like that. I am talking about the sentences I say about myself or that I put out into the universe casually and without much thought. Usually the way I speak about life and my place in the world is founded on habitual ways of thinking about how the world operates and what I subconsciously believe my value is within it. It is not very often I stop and think about what my speech patterns suggest about my expectations of God, of life, of others, and of myself. But for the last three weeks in church, 3 different churches mind you, I’ve heard some variation of the same instruction, that what we say with our mouths so shall it be with us. I’ve come to understand that when God repeats God’s self it is wise to listen.
So what could that mean for people of faith to dwell more intentionally on what we profess with our lips? Not just our creeds or declaration of faith but what we profess in the mundane spaces of our lives, in the quiet bedtime moments while we are waiting for sleep to catch us, and in the first several minutes of the morning when we still recognize it’s a new day. The funny thing is that as Christians there are so many things we are told NOT to profess, so many truths about our individual lives that we are subtly discouraged from saying out loud because it makes people uncomfortable and doesn’t fit the false images we’ve created about what it means to be a Christian.
“I am divorced.”
“I am heavily in debt”
“I am a recovering alcoholic.”
“I am unemployed”
“I am depressed.”
“I am lonely.”
“I am angry with God.”
“I do not get anything from church.”
The list could go on for miles. But I digress as always. This post isn’t about what we’re encouraged not to profess. It’s about why we aren’t more openly encouraged to think about the power of our words, our good, life-giving, life-affirming, God-expectant, childlike-faith words. Why don’t more of us Christians encourage and invite one another to speak boldly into our own lives and into each others’ lives. Why don’t we profess more God-expectant and mind-blowing conviction to one another.
“You, who can’t find a job, your talents and gifts will not go to waste.”
“You, who cry with loneliness, remember that God does not desire humans to be alone. You can and will have community.”
“You, who can’t get out of bed, there is strength in numbers and the people who love you out number those who don’t.”
Why don’t we encourage and help one another to profess words of gratitude.
Why don’t we ask one another more to share our dreams, the things we still aspire towards, the goals we are afraid of reaching for.
Why don’t we speak boldly and with confidence about the gifts we do possess and ways in which we know we are capable of using them?
I wonder if our recognizing (or failing to recognize) the power of our words as people of faith is at all connected to what we believe and acknowledge (or don’t) about the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am just thinking aloud.