I absolutely love words and have since I was a young girl. I love seeing new words and even using new words. When I was young we used to get copies of paperback Reader’s Digest from one of my Mother’s friends and my favorite game from that magazine was matching a list of words with definitions. I can’t say I was always correct, but I can say I learned a lot and I loved playing the game.
Whether we know it or not, words have a huge impact on all of us. We treasure words of encouragement, and we often repeat favorite words or phrases from a movie. When my kiddos were growing up they would frequently say things that would either send me into fits of laughter or have me asking myself if there was a behavior I needed to change.
When my son Rodney was about four or five he asked me about marriage. I don’t remember everything he asked, but I do remember hearing someone say that boys always seem to want to marry someone like their Mother.
I asked him, “What kind of girl do you want to marry; maybe someone like me?”
He quickly responded, “No, you’re too bossy.”
Some of the most precious words I ever heard were between my Mother and me when she was in the hospital and nearing the end of her life. I had to ask her if we were square. You see, our childhood was difficult and I was a difficult teenager and young adult. I needed to know if we were okay; if there was anything I needed to address. She patted her bed and invited me to come lay down with her and we talked for a long time. We were square. Those were sweet words of comfort that day and again in my heart at her funeral.
My husband doesn’t always speak a lot of words but when he does I listen carefully. He is gifted with wisdom, his words are good, and he often delivers them with hysterical humor. On our 10th anniversary he wrote me the sweetest note that I cherish to this day. Please let me share it with you:
“As I said my daily prayers today
I started with the normal things
Lord, thank you for this day
But then I remembered today was a special day
The anniversary of my life beginning again with
The most wonderful woman in the world
Thank you Lord for my life and the wife
That you have blessed me with
Without her the things in life that you
Give me would have little meaning
I love you with every breath I take”
I felt loved and treasured from these words!
This year we will celebrate our 30th anniversary, and recently he shared some loving words to me in humor. We were discussing health issues concerning my family and things we might be faced with as I age. He simply hugged me and said, “Well, bag, nag or sag, I still love ya Babe!” Certainly different words than he spoke on our tenth anniversary but I feel just as treasured and loved.
We all have words we need to share and sometimes change in our lives, don’t we? This is particularly true when we say things in anger or frustration that can be devastating to anyone, but especially to a child. Today, I want to share some words that confused me and hardened my heart when I was a child.
Up until I was about eight years old, my family was victims of domestic abuse at the hand of my father. He was an abusive alcoholic; a man who when intoxicated was filled with an unquenchable rage. My Mother took the brunt of his abuse and would throw herself in front of him if he attempted to go after one of her children. Unfortunately, this only enraged him further and he would beat her until she was no longer able to fight or she was unconscious. His ‘words’ were powerful and painful, as most of his words were spoken with his fists. We eventually escaped but not before a lot of words had been heard and felt that damaged my little heart.
We left in the summer, and for a period of time we lived with my Grandmother. Her home was tiny therefore it was important for my Mother to find a place of our own quickly. But first, my Mother needed a job.
There was a church near my Grandmother’s home and they had just started Vacation Bible School (VBS). My Mother quickly enrolled all of us.
I don’t remember a lot about that week but I do remember two things, both associated with words. First, we all memorized John 3:16 and I can still recite those words in the KJ version to this day.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
As we memorized that verse our VBS teacher talked all week about God and Jesus and how God sent Jesus to the world to save us. The more she talked the more my hearted wanted to know this Jesus. Unfortunately, she ended our week by saying some words that had good intentions but they broke my heart, and they were not in the Bible: she said Jesus loved us so much he would always protect us from harm.
I don’t remember anything else she said that day. What I remember is the horrible feeling I had when in my child’s mind I felt like God and Jesus did not love me or my family because we were not protected from harm. That day I made a decision; I told Jesus, I wasn’t going to love Him either.
Now, here is a key thing I don’t want you to miss about that last statement I made: “I told Jesus.” What I don’t want you to miss is that by the end of that week, I actually believed in Jesus. You see, there is a knowing that happens when you know that Jesus is who He says He is and it happened to me that week in VBS. But I was so very broken and confused by those words, that I withheld my heart and love from Him.
Before we go any further, I want to defend that young lady. By no means did she intend to hurt me with her words. She had no idea who I was or what had happened to me and my family. If she had, I’m pretty sure she would have changed the way she said those words. Instead I think she would have said this truth that is in the Bible: Jesus loves you unconditionally, in spite of what’s been done to you or what you have done. She would have shared this truth, that is in the Bible:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”” John 16:33 NLT
If I had heard these words, I might have been comforted, and I might not have turned away from God.
Instead because of my brokenness, I grew up with no complete trust for anyone. I got married, had children, got divorced, and remarried a fabulous man. We had been married for about 12 years when he said some interesting words to me. He said, “This is what is missing from our lives.” He said this after we attended a church service where his brother spoke. I didn’t know anything was missing from our lives, so this came as a complete shock to me! But that day, because I was confident in his love and I trusted him I told him, “if this is important to you, then it is fine with me.”
We hadn’t been attending church but a few weeks when the pastor kicked off a new series about the Ten Commandments. When he got to the commandment about honoring your parents I had a few words of my own to say; they went something like this: “I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about this!” (Please read my words dripping with sarcasm.)
He started the message off with these words: if you are a victim of domestic abuse, I have some words for you at the end of the message. Truthfully, the promise of those words, were the only thing that kept me in the service that day. I cried like a baby all the way through his message. Why? Because his description of a loving earthly father was nothing like what I had experienced as a child and the feelings I had about being fatherless were intensified and painful.
As the service finally came to an end, with the most heartfelt sorrow the pastor said some words that still impact me to this day. Do you know what those words were? He said, “I am so sorry.” No one had ever said that that to me. Without even knowing it myself they were words I needed to hear. In that moment I wept thankful tears because those words healed my broken heart.
I wish there was no such thing as devastating words or devastating actions. But we have those terrible things because we are all sinners. If you have been hurt by someone, I want to share those words that Jesus said to me, that day in church.
I am so sorry. And you know what? God is sorry too.
He never wanted that for any of us. He gave us all an amazing gift: free will. We have free will to do and say what is right or wrong. Sometimes we do the right thing and then sometimes we do incredibly wrong things.
Maybe you’ve been wronged with words or actions. Maybe you’ve harmed someone with your words or actions. Here is what I want you to know today:
We are all sinners. How do I know this? God tells us this in His word: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23 NIV
But he also says that he wants us to have a relationship with Him and He wants us to turn from our sins. And guess what? You can have that today.
Here is what God says:
“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess (your faith) and are saved.”
Maybe these words have hit home in your heart today. I hope they have. I would love for you to have that same precious relationship with Jesus that I have. Who is Jesus to me? He is my Father. If you are missing that relationship in your life like I was, I want to share some of the most loving words with you from God’s Words; the Bible. In 2 Corinthians 6:18 God says this to all of us:
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
All those years I thought I was fatherless, He made me realize I had a Father that was better than any earthly Father in this world.
If you are ready to start that relationship with Jesus today, would you please repeat these words after me?
God, I know I have sinned. But I’m willing to turn from my sins right now. I need your forgiveness. And I know there is nothing I can do to earn your forgiveness. I believe you sent Jesus to die for my sins. I need Jesus today. I invite Jesus to come into my life And forgive my sins. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for eternal life. Thank you for the Holy Spirit that will now be my guide. Thank you that I am now a member of Your family. I pray this all in Jesus name.
If you said these words and you meant them from your heart, you are now a member of God’s family; my family. Please let someone know you made that commitment, and find a Bible believing, Jesus following church and get connected. I’d love to know it too!