Words Are Powerful
Definition: “The act of expressing or setting forth in words. Indication of feeling, spirit, character, etc.” (Dictionary.com)
I am a talker. Everyone who knows me, knows this about me. (“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” --Proverbs 10:19) There are a lot of scriptures in the Bible about people who talk a lot. I know, because they have been highlighted in multiple colors over the years in my Bible. And yet, I still struggle with this truth.
I have searched my soul about the root of my need to speak, and I’ve come up with a few reasons:
I want to feel heard.
I can testify to the theory that being a middle child, you can feel like you have to work extra hard to get your parents attention. My sisters are brilliant! Each in her unique way. When I was younger, I didn’t show any proclivities – I was okay at sports, but not great. I liked art, but didn’t do much until high school. I definitely wasn’t book-smart, and boy was I awkward in my own skin. It’s hard to define your special niche within a family as talented and gifted as mine. So, I think I started talking a lot…and loud, to get some of the focus. Sounds a little pathetic when I see it in writing, but that’s part of the truth.
Through pain, I wanted to feel valued.
There’s a phrase I’ve heard repeatedly over the years: “Hurt people, hurt people.” I believe this is the root of a truckload of my sarcasm and sharp words. Oddly, I thought by making others small, it would make me feel more important. But that is a lie of the enemy. Thank God! He showed me the error of my ways on this issue! I still struggle with being snarky or using my tongue like a sword, but now I am aware of it, and prayerful about it.
Each person is created unique and beautiful. For the longest time, I believed that unless a person thought and/or believed just like me, we couldn’t be in a relationship of value. This isn’t true! Of course, there is something especially sweet in sharing your faith with someone who understands and shares your belief – a familial bond. Conversely, just because someone is a blood relative doesn’t make them a confidant or ally. But there is still value in what each person brings to our lives.
And this is where our words come in.
Let’s slide the calendar back a few decades to when I was about 13 years old. My mom, step-dad and I were having a discussion (again) about my failing grades (again) and how, because of my low marks, I would “live an average life, have an average job and likely attract an average husband…” there were several conversations over the course of my formative years that had a similar vein. These "discussions" left me feeling small and insignificant.
In all fairness, if you had sisters who were as smart as mine, who were constantly praised for their high marks, sharp wit and creativity, you could understand why my parents might think I should be the same way (maybe). But, the reality is, we are (and have always been) extremely different. From the fact that they are blondes with fair complexions and I‘m a brunette and would tan easily, is but an external example of what I'm trying to describe of the internal source. The truth is, we are all very smart, it just manifests itself in different ways. But let’s get back to the illustration…
As you can see, that conversation stuck with me. I knew I would never be a scholar, but I refused to be considered average. A short time after that discussion, I made a decision to ask my dad to live with him, and he said yes! My life took a different direction from that point on.
By God’s infinite grace and mercy, I was given an opportunity to thrive. My dad would encourage me to use my talents. He basically said I could do anything I set my mind to – and I applied that principle liberally. He also told me I had “street smarts,” and that is far more valuable than book-smarts. I can’t even begin to tell you the impact that had on me. Over the years I lived with my dad and his wife, I went from a 2.5 GPA, to graduating with a 3.65, lettered in two sports and was accepted to four out of the five colleges I applied to (including two prestigious art schools).
Words are powerful.
“I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to reduce your financial aid package.” –That's what the Bursar at Pratt Institute told me when I asked for an increase to my aid so I could stay for my sophomore year.
“I have some good news, and I have some bad news. The good news is, the doctors have finally discovered why my knee has been bothering me these past few months. The bad news…it’s stage four lung cancer.” –my mom, six months before she died.
“Lyn Bowman, you are the sun in my days, and the stars in my night, and you would make me the happiest man in the world if you would be my wife.” –my love, proposing to me, New Year's Eve, 1992, at our favorite spot in Newport Beach. I honestly believed he was about to break up with me; he’d been acting so weird the week before!
“Something’s not right with your baby.” –ultrasound technician. Shortly after this, we would find out that our little girl, Rebecca, who made it to 41 weeks inutero, had a chromosomal defect. She is our treasure in heaven.
“Congratulations! You’re pregnant!” –my doctor, one year after we lost Rebecca. That was a very long year. Just two months earlier, my husband had prayed we would have a healthy baby by the end of 2000. Our second daughter was born November 7th of that year.
“I died, that you might live.” –Jesus
Words are powerful. They convey: a message, a sentiment, feelings, beliefs, and truths.
When we express ourselves orally or in writing, there’s an intention to share some thing. To say something. Before I became a Christian, what I said came with very little thought. Even after I surrendered my life to Christ, I didn’t fully comprehend the value of my words. Oh, I knew they were powerful, but I didn’t choose my words as carefully as I attempt now. But expressing ourselves takes many forms.
Although I am still a talker, I have found other, more constructive ways to express myself: a smile, a hug (I love hugs), sharing a good cry with someone, holding the hand of my daughters or husband...painting.
I absolutely love that there’s a form of painting called Expressionism. That has me written all over it! It is defined as: “a manner of painting, drawing, sculpting, etc., in which forms derived from nature are distorted or exaggerated and colors are intensified for emotive or expressive purposes.”
Doesn’t that sound like my paintings? Like me?? Do you want to know something? I just read that definition for the first time when I was writing this post? Who knew?? (God. God knew – I love it!)
My husband has described me from early on as his biggest cheerleader. I don’t know about that, but I do know that I have replaced my need for many words with: prayers, palette knives and canvases. This is how I constructively express myself these days.
How do you effectively and constructively express yourself? Do you use your words to build others up or tear them down? Do you share your faith or shy away because of discomfort? Do you encourage your family &/or kids to be all they have been created to be or do you mock and criticize? Let me confess to you now, I have done every single one of the above. But praise God that he is gracious and his mercies are new every morning.
Let me encourage you with this: none of us are perfect, not ONE! …except God, alone (doesn't that take all the pressure away??). I trust him to continue to do a work in me in my pursuit of honoring Him with my words ...and my paintings; to effectively express myself and my love for others and for my Savior into this world. Thank you for joining me on this journey of Expression!
Seeking beauty in the everyday stuff of life with you,
Featured Artwork: "Reaching", 36” x 36”, acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas. It’s not currently on the website, so if you’re interested in purchasing it, please send me an email or text