Words Meant For Me
Recently, I got an email from a far-away friend. Her words spoke directly to who I am, and to situations that I'm in. I could picture her face as I read, and I thought of her, thinking of me as she wrote those words.
I love words that are meant for many, but there is something deeply wonderful about words meant just for me.
Maybe it's because I'm a word person, but I'm struck by the power that words hold in my life. Something as simple as a text or tweet can lift me up, make me smile and breathe a prayer of thanks. Those little words, strung together, are the vehicle for healing, care and love.
Even the most challenging sermon can't compete with someone I trust coming to me about hard things in my life, asking me to examine them. God uses those words, spoken to many, but He also uses words that only I will ever hear.
Conversations stick in my head. My ears are one of my greatest assets, allowing me to quote movies and accurately sing songs with ease. They catch and call to mind words, as well, reminding me of encouragement, as well as harsh words, spoken at a higher pitch.
It's easy to say that words have power. I hear and I say that often. Most of the time, when I talk about this, it's a caution. Be careful, your words can hurt someone. This is true of course. I've been on the other end of this, staring down the barrel of a gun, loaded with words that wound. But lately, I've been discovering something else entirely.
My friend, in her email, told me that she could see Jesus in me. I read it over and over again and cried joyful tears. This woman knows that words matter and she has chosen to be lavish with them. She bestows them on me like bouquets of well-chosen flowers. Her words are not cheap or trite, they matter, but they are extravagant.
I have become friends, over time, with people who value the written (and spoken) word. They carefully curate them, and they respond enthusiastically when I offer a gracious bunch.
I go back to these emails and texts (yes, even tweets). I read over comments that strike a chord and return in my mind to meaningful conversations. I write down the images and ideas, and yes, the words, in my journal so that I don't forget. I live with them and invite them to inhabit me.
Maybe this is part of what John meant as he wrote his mysterious and beautiful intro to his gospel. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus came to earth and said many things which weren't written down. He said those things to specific people in specific contexts. It's easy to be jealous of that time and place and wish that I had been there, too. It is so easy to forget that the Holy Spirit lives within me.
There are all kinds of words floating about in the world asking and wondering and debating how God speaks to us. I will not add to them here. I will only say that the Holy Spirit does speak to me. These are words that aren't for everyone, they are special and specific and they have the power to encourage, convict and transform. They work in concert with the words for everyone, just as letters from friends interact with books and blogs. The purposes are different, but they each serve an important one.
It is easy to think that writing which is seen and read by many people is the most meaningful. I fall into this from time to time. But then I think about that email and the way those lovely, lavish words (and many others) have enriched my life, spilling over the edges of me and onto those nearby, and I know that without the words written and spoken in secret, the words said aloud, written for all to see, would never exist at all.