Before I proceed, you need to understand the background.
Fayth, our daughter with Down syndrome, was just 6 months old at the time. We had traveled out to California for Christmas to be with my family. Fayth was also only 3 months out of her open-heart surgery. To put it lightly, my wife and I were very vulnerable at this stage in parenting.
We were at my parent’s church getting ready to drive back to the house where I grew up. When we come into town, it is always a battle between all of my nephews and nieces to spend the most time with Uncle Jared and Aunt Stephanie. The ante had risen since now we had a baby too. So my nephews and nieces pleaded to ride with their aunt and uncle back to Grandma and Granddad’s house.
Jacob was the lucky winner this time. Or should I say, God ordained this trip to test.
As we drove away from the church, Jacob sat next to Fayth in the back seat. Not more than 60 seconds into the ride, Jacob had a question about his cousin he had just met for the first time.
“Uncle Jared, will she always look DUMB like that?” Life froze.
Stephanie and my hearts sank. I peeked over at Stephanie before I responded. Tears started to stream down her face. I was quickly sweeping up my shattered heart to give Jacob a response. The faster I responded, the more I can let Stephanie deal with this quietly in the passenger seat.
I had 5 minutes to respond, explain, and understand before we arrived at our destination.
“Jacob, why do you think she looks dumb?” I asked in a non-condemning way.
“Well, she keeps on sticking out her tongue.” Jacob explained.
“Does that mean she is dumb?”
“I guess not. But why does she do that?”
— Skipping my explanation about Down syndrome traits. —
I continued, “So, does that make her dumb Jacob?” Jacob, my 6-year-old nephew, was getting a deeper lesson than he had bargained for. “Jacob, is it nice to judge people by the way they look?”
“That’s right. Just because people look different or are a little different than other people, it doesn’t mean they are dumb.” My pain was still strong, but it was quickly lessening as I helped Jacob through this topic. Oh yes, and it never was a scolding, but a lesson.
This conversation led to many more conversations over the next couple of days. Stephanie and I were very young in our new parenthood, but we had just learned a dozen lessons in the matter of seconds. However, there was one lesson that stuck out above the rest.
Words will destroy or build us. It is our choice.
The Power of Words Create
When I woke up that morning, I would have never prayed, “Father, can you teach me a lesson about the power of words?” Although, now looking back at this one moment, it has paved a path to understanding the power of words like never before in my life.
It also brought me to read God’s word a bit differently.
John 1:1–3 says, “In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
Jesus is defined as the word. The Word created ALL THINGS. Words possess the power to plant in our lives. When rooted into our soul, it creates emotions, feelings, desires, convictions, and much more. Words create.
We see this also true in the parable of the sowers. Jesus explains the seeds are the word of God. However, I believe the seeds are not limited to the word of God. There are godly seeds and evil seeds scattered all around us everyday. Slowly penetrating the soil or our soul, producing plants or weeds.
Choosing The Right Power In Words
When God led Jacob to ride along with us, He was wanting us to understand how to handle words. Some might see this story as horrible since it came from my own family, but I don’t see it that way. I see it as a blessing. Because Jacob was only 6-years-old, it was easier to offer forgiveness and grace to him. Jacob is a very outspoken kid, still even today. He speaks his mind, good or bad. In addition, because this hardship happened within my family, Stephanie and I had the opportunity to talk to my whole family about the issue.
God was teaching us the whole time.
There is great power in ALL words, but it is what we do with these words that will lead us into current state of being. Words give you two options in regards to power.
You will be OVERPOWERED or EMPOWERED by words.
I want to mainly speak on the painful words that are spoken to us though, if that is okay with you.
When words are planted into our lives, we have the grace to choose what to do with those words. If we receive a word that is hurtful like we did from Jacob and let it fester, it will OVERPOWER us. The worst response to hurtful words is internalize. It is like taking a bite of poison and swallowing it. It will embed into every aspect of our life and grow disastrously. We must get rid of it, quickly. This involves forgiveness, grace, and confession. If we don’t rid ourselves of painful words, we will be OVERPOWERED. This is exactly what Satan is hoping for.
The other choice is rooted in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This is choosing EMPOWER.
When those same hurtful words are dropped in our laps and we choose to extricate them, we step into EMPOWERMENT. I am not talking about ignoring the words, but dealing with the words. When we respond with forgiveness, grace, and confession, we step into an area of obedience and blessing. Paul said, “We KNOW that in ALL THINGS…” Even in bad situations, God can be teaching us.
Instead of being destroyed because of painful words, we can reverse and ask God, “Father, what are you teaching me through this?” God will EMPOWER us in ways I can’t even begin to mention here. We will learn to see the world differently. We will learn to love, forgive, accept, and respond differently. When we respond to hurtful words in God’s way, we are walking into His grace. God’s grace EMPOWERS us.
The next time you receive a word that is painful, how will respond? How will you deal with that seed? Will it plant and root up weeds or reverse into a glorious flower? Will words OVERPOWER you or EMPOWER you?
Let me give you a hint, choose EMPOWER. The results are so much sweeter.
Image courtesy of twobee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net