I love words. I am an extreme extrovert. I love to write. I love to read. I like to teach my kids what different words mean. I will ask you how to spell your name when I meet you so I can spell it in my head. I often “see” words in my mind as I am speaking or meeting people.
I also hold speaking and preaching in high regard. I want to do both well so I can communicate clearly. I supposed it is so I can be an influence and try to change people’s lives and minds… Or maybe it is simply because I grew up as an only child and words, stories and books kept me company most of my childhood. (not that I didn’t have friends… that’s another post for another day…)
I preached yesterday at our new church. I love the chance to preach and the topic yesterday couldn’t have been more perfect for me. We are going through a series about sharing your faith. I got to finish the series with an encouragement to those listening to share their faith stories with others. I got to tell stories, lots of them. I got to preach on a really good Bible story (Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10). I told our adoption story (complete with Minions and the “shorts”). I told a running story.
Then I encouraged them that God was at work in everyone’s lives. He shows no partiality (it says so right in Acts 10.). And if He is at work everyone, then everyone has a story. And if He is the One at work, then it is really His story. If it is His story, then it has power.
I was cruising. I felt good. I was encouraged. Then I finished the second service’s sermon with this:
“Your power has story.”
And then I gave the benediction.
Ouch. I was so confident I kept going and did not even know I had misspoken until good friends gently told me about it afterwards.
It reminds me of other times I have completely botched a section of a talk.
Once I was speaking into a microphone at an InterVarsity retreat and it was super loud, picking up my every sound. I said, “Wow. I am hot.”
It came across as boastful and I was super embarrassed afterwards. I really did get hot after that.
Another time I was speaking about the power of the Bible and I said, with so much confidence that you could have almost believed me… “The Bible is the best book I have ever written.”
Again, I did not notice what I had said. I kept going confidently, except so many people were laughing that I had to stop. “What did I say?” They told me and it took me a good long time to recover and keep going.
And then just the other week, Brian and I were doing announcements on June 16. I forgot to say it so Brian said, “Hey to all the dad’s out there…” And I jumped in and said, “yes! Happy Anniversary! … I mean HAPPY FATHER’s DAY!” Geesh.
Lastly, during our signing of our agreement for our church residency contract, I was pointing out a small edit on the wording. Then I declared “I have eyes like a vulture.” Our church planting director said, “I think you mean hawk.” Yes, yes that is what I meant. Embarrassed again.
Words matter. Even small letters matter. Perhaps we could even suggest they have power.
We have noticed a few signs in Mankato that are missing essential letters.
Wendy’s have advertised “od fas-ed hambu’s” when we moved here. Today we noticed they still haven’t fixed it.
The local shoe store “Fa.us Ftwr” made us giggle (Famous Footwear).
You may have all seen those silly stories with bulletin mistakes or signs that seem to have glaringly obvious mistakes that haven’t been fixed.
Recently I have been thinking about how our words really matter. I have memories of people telling me things from years ago. Stuck in my mind like it was yesterday.
I remember exactly what Brian said the day he asked me to date him and I asked him what that meant. He said, “Well I’d like to get married but I thought we should date first.”
I remember the first thing I said when I saw XS for the first time, “Well, there you are.”
I can hear Elam looking out the window in the dark and saying, “Momma, da mooon!”
And I can remember when they took Calista out of my body via c-section, hearing the suction-like wet sound and asking “What is it?” Then, “Does she have hair?!”
Sometimes there just really aren’t words to say or enough words.
I am trying to learn in those moments just sit still and be. Or maybe just say “I love you.” or “I am so sorry that happened.” or “I believe you.”
Because words matter. Your words matter. They have power.
And your power has story.
What will you do with that power?