Words, words and more words!!

words-have-power

This week a word was used to describe me that made me do a double take. It wasn’t an insulting or offensive word, it wasn’t said in a nasty tone, but I was mildly affronted.

I thought I had made a genuine impression, had a reasonably deep connection with this individual when they applied this word to me. We had laughed, shared stories, made plans, shared hurts, we had gone beyond pleasantries when the word made an appearance.

It’s a word that I’d connect with vanilla ice cream, ready salted crisps, warm water, salted popcorn, plain rice and mash potatoes…in short the type of thing you have if nothing else is available.

It’s the type of word you’d apply when viewing someone’s house, sampling a desert dry cake or admiring a child’s painting and you can’t think of anything positive to say.

Almost like a ‘make do’, bland, tasteless, meaningless, left over type of word: a word to be found in the junkyard of words.

Which made me think about the power of words and the way they can affect us. With Valentines Day fast approaching the word LOVE immediately sprang to mind. I can remember the first time my husband uttered those three little words, “I LOVE YOU”, and how my heart almost escaped from my chest and a million butterflies took flight in my belly.

How heart breaking it would have been for him if instead of replying “I LOVE YOU” right back, I mumbled “I DON’T LOVE YOU”. The appearance of one word, DON’T, changing the meaning of the whole sentence.

Another word that carries so much power is the word THEREFORE. I have recently preached on the Book of Philemon and the Apostle Paul’s use of the word THEREFORE. The way THEREFORE connects a strong affirmation of Philemon’s personal characteristics followed by the behaviour he expects from him, massive meaning contained within one little nine-letter word.

Then comes the famous BUT. You’re doing really well BUT, I think you’re great BUT, I would like to help BUT. How many of us have had great conversations immediately slayed by the killer BUT?

Another two words that can propel or postpone us are PASS and FAIL. This week I passed my driving test and am ecstatic, over the moon, elated, relieved and deliriously happy. I almost hugged the examiner but held back and replaced physical touch with verbal gushing’s. She was embarrassed and horrified…the power of words!!!

YES and NO elicit similar reactions to PASS and FAIL and can be just as positive or destructive.

The spoken word has the power to tear us down, stop us in our tracks and leave scars that last a lifetime. On the contrary they can also build us up and inspire us to achieve greater feats than we ever dared to dream.

Conversely the most powerful words can be rendered powerless if the eyes, body language and tone of voice don’t match what’s being said. Ever had someone say sorry to you grudgingly, with glaring eyes, hunched shoulders and a clipped tone?

I read this anonymous quote an thought it incredibly apt “Words start wars and end them, create love and choke it, bring us to laughter and joy and tears. Words cause men and women to willingly risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Our world, as we know it, revolves on the power of words.”

Words are powerful and have a longer lasting effect than most give them credit for. They stick in our head, and often unwittingly, come pouring out of our mouths.

They are living entities and evolve with each new generation and different location.

If you’re wondering what the word used to describe me was, it was…NICE! Bland, flavourless, boring…zzzzzzz!

But, if I put aside my insipid connotations of this word and focus on the persons tone, body language and the expression in their eyes it really was quite a compliment…thanks!!

Whose got the power??

power

I read something recently that has really stuck with me…I might even have read it on another person’s blog (if I have please let me know and I’ll happily credit you).

The sentence I read is incredibly simple, not particularly profound and glaringly obvious. When I tell you what it is some, maybe the majority of you, will think ‘so what!’

If I’m honest I’m not even too sure why it has stuck with me…maybe its something to do with the time of the year.

The sentence I read contained the words ‘before you was a wife you were a girlfriend’.

This got me thinking about the difference between being a wife and a girlfriend and the realisation a lot more effort was made when I was a girlfriend (by both me and my husband) although my value is surely more as a wife if we stand by the belief that marriage is forever.

And I’m not being sexist as you could reverse this and say surely if marriage is for keeps, my husbands value is more as a husband than a boyfriend despite the fact more effort was made when he was simply a boyfriend.

Just as a caveat in case anyone starts to get worried we are VERY happily married but I no longer shower, brush my teeth, wear my best clothes or re-do my make up before I meet him. During my wife period he has seen me in shrunken pyjamas, smeared make up from the night before and hair so lank and flat, a mop head seems attractive!

And then I started to think back to before I was ever a girlfriend although there were obviously other titles such as friend, daughter, sister that I owned. What expectations did I place upon myself? Do I still have these expectations? Were these expectations ever realised or realistic?

I began to think back to the ‘effort’ I poured into me before I had the opportunity to transfer this energy to my husband and three children. Although at times (homework, housework, personal life, career and general self improvement) I’m sure they would rather my energy had been directed away from them!!

And it brought me right back to that initial sentence ‘before you was a wife you were a girlfriend’ and I realised that before I was anything to anyone else I was a daughter.

I was a daughter to my amazing parents whom I have so much to be grateful for…love, support, encouragement, discipline etc. I know most people think they have the best parents but I can honestly say that despite the small mistakes they made (I didn’t come with a manual so mistakes are to be expected…made a few myself!!) my parents are the best!!

And even before I was a daughter to my mum and dad I was a daughter of God and inheritor of all that He promises for His children.

And if I acknowledge that, I have to embrace that at the same time God created me I became uniquely me, a human snowflake; here for a short while and inimitable. I belong to me. I am ultimately responsible for me. I predominantly get to determine the path I choose to walk. Despite similarities no one on Earth will ever be exactly like me. Just like no one on Earth will ever be exactly like you. That is quite simply the way God made us to be.

My reaction and action to others treatment of me, be it good or bad, is my responsibility. Emotional baggage I choose to hold onto is a choice I’ve made. My weight, be it over, under or just right is my responsibility. Another’s attitude towards me is not my responsibility but how I deal with the way it affects me is.

When it comes to me, as Snap sung back in 1990 ‘I’ve Got The Power”. I just need to remember that and assert said power, not over others, but over myself.

Sometimes I know I’ve been guilty of assuming responsibility for another instead of helping them be empowered, effectively using their power to bolster my own. And conversely there have been times when I’ve allowed a power thief access to my reserves and have stood by whilst they raided essential parts of me.

Which brings me back to ‘before you was a wife you were a girlfriend’ and how I want to be identified…not by others because ultimately their opinion is secondary. But what labels, what titles, what markers of identity (if any), I want to pin upon myself.