“Well, aren’t you just the jolly green giant!” A woman at church said that to me twenty-five years ago. Worse has been said, surely. Although to this day I can’t put on a pair of heels without hearing her voice.
Have you ever wanted to take back your words?
That was the question posed to my Bible study class this morning. We’ve been reading the book of James; chapter 3 talks about taming the tongue and the power of words.
I thought of Rhema, who all her life, we’ve been trying to get words out. I wondered, Will she ever have a moment where she actually says too much? – wants to take her words back?
Somewhere between age one and two I’d convinced myself that ‘all she has is a speech delay’. I would tell her one day, I thought, when she could talk, how the language had been slow to come. How huge the silence had felt. How she’d spent countless hours in therapy doing oral motor exercises just to become aware of her lips, to strengthen her tongue and produce sound with her mouth. I’d tell her we’d learned never to take it for granted. Words. That speech is a gift. That she should always remember to speak well; use her words for good, not bad; bless, not curse.
Perhaps the lesson was always intended for me – I grieve my many sins with my too much talk, the rivers of damage springing from my own tongue. Life with Rhema has often prompted me to consider what I say, what I write.
Words in cyberspace are superfluous. Every time I log in, the WordPress tool boasts ’52,539,835 words today.’ Countless words are recorded in chats, emails, blogs, Facebook and Twitter pages. My friend Stefan wrote once, “With the sheer volume and pace of words and words and words, it is unnatural and counter cultural to slow down enough to read or write words that matter.
~Excerpt from On Comments, 9/2010
Is there not more silence in our lives because we are afraid?
Afraid that when we aren’t talking, aren’t connected, aren’t piping in on conversations around tables, water coolers, comment boxes, aren’t messaging or emailing …. that we don’t matter. That we will be forgotten.
That we’ll become invisible.
And maybe more than anything else, we want to be seen, known…
I heard two words for sure from my girl today, the 2nd of May 2012. She said “Hi” to me when prompted by her teacher. She said, “Chee, chee, chee” after I said “Ch-“ and held out a piece of cheese. And I told her that her speech is a precious gift, graciously given by the Speech Maker himself.
And I told her that it’s ok. I am finally ok in this loud world, even happy to sit with no words. I admire the beautiful meditation of her heart, her wisdom in the silence, her quiet contentment – she knows she is seen, she knows she is known.
This child whose very name means “word” is to me a living reminder that there really are no words, only The Word, the Spirit and Life Word. God’s whispering come and listen.
“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me.
I should never have opened my mouth!
I’ve talked too much, way too much.
I’m ready to shut up and listen.” ~Job 40:3-5
Search your hearts and be silent. ~Psalm 4:4
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. ~Ecclesiastes 5:2