Words, words, words, all around us, all the time. They bring us life and death and everything in between. When I think about words and how they have shaped me I find I can put them into three categories, the bad, the good and the Godly.
Words have had an enormous impact on my life, I remember those words “You’re not invited” to a birthday party or “Congratulations” on a scholarship letter. Words define all the moments – both good and bad – in my life. Some words seem to dig deeper and linger longer in my mind, words like worthless, broken and shameful often come to the forefront. These negative words are hard to ignore. They have formed my beliefs about myself and shaped my identity. Negative words tend to do that to us, they dig in their roots and refuse to leave.
As a child learning to read was one of the most exciting experiences in school. I loved looking at a word and seeing the letters come together to form meaning. I loved finding new words and using them to express myself. But, like many good things, the devil took my love of words, twisted it and turned it against me.
Feelings I had from past trauma now had words. They spelled themselves out daily in giant neon letters in my mind. Dirty… Useless… Worthless… Unclean… They became my mantra. They became how I saw myself. They left me feeling hopeless and empty.
As I grew older, I thought maybe if I found enough people to say “good” words about me that it would dim those neon giants. The word “perfectionism” became my newest acquisition as I thought, “if I do good enough I’ll get that A” or “If I’m well behaved, I’ll get a good job”. I loved hearing all those “good” words. I strove to be a great student, positive role model, to be athletic and full of potential. But those words only gave me a temporary fill up, a moment of time where I could forget the negative words and feel good about myself.
I went to church, learned about God and experienced temporary spiritual highs. Being around the music and people made me think I could share in that feeling. Other Christians looked happy, but instead of looking to God as the source of that happiness, I looked to the people. I thought if I can just borrow what they have found, get some “good” words from them maybe I’ll feel better, maybe if the right person prays for me it will stick.
Of course all the good words in the world, however well-intentioned, could not put a dent into the negativity and emptiness so deep inside of me. Those bad words always found their way to the surface and plunged me deeper into mental illness, anxiety and depression. The problem with needing good words to fill me up is that I could never hear enough, never get enough positive affirmation from others. It became a bottomless need, that created a very self-seeking and self-centred person. That constant need destroyed relationships and pushed me further away from God.
Only one kind of words can break through the wall of destruction and penetrate into my soul and those are only the ones that come from God.
Hebrews 4:12 says:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, discerning thoughts and the intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
The Bible is a collection of God’s words to us – it’s his revelation of his creation, of who he is and his plan for humanity. It’s how we get to know him, get to know how he feels about us, and get to know his intentions for us. His intentions for me. God’s word is just as relevant today as it was when the writer of Hebrews penned those words. Here are some more of the words God has for us:
He has good plans for you.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
He delights in you.
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is mighty saviour. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. – Zephaniah 3:17
He knows you.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous, how well I know it! You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. – Psalm 139:13-15
He loves you.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:39
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! – I John 3:1
He wants to know you.
This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. – I Timothy 2:3-4
He calls you his daughter.
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. – John 1:12
You are valued.
What is the price of two sparrows? One copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. – Matthew 10:29-31
The past four or five years have been a journey for me — a journey of God slowly pulling back the layers of my brokenness and whispering his love into my heart. I have been guarded, untrusting and stubborn with Him, but slowly the walls are coming down. His words are penetrating into my heart and knocking down the negative giants!
This last year especially God has been showing me that his words: to me, about me and for me, are the only ones that truly build me up. When he calls me beautiful, he says it as the creator of my mind, body and spirit. When he calls me redeemed, he says it from a place of truly being able to forgive and cleanse me from my sins. When he calls me loved, he says it because he is the most perfect father calling me daughter.
I have spent my lifetime battling negative destructive words and years suffering from their effects. Crippling mental illness has caused me endless pain. In all of this I can confidently say that Gods words are enough. And no, I shouldn’t quit therapy, break off friendships and abandon all community, that’s not what God wants.
I have discovered that the affirmation, hope and words I crave can be found in God. God is the only one that can provide words that don’t just dim the bad ones, but ones powerful enough to blast them out of my mind. Will the negative ones come back? Yes, but now I have a weapon to fight back with. God’s words will always shine brighter and they will always win!