Monday, June 9, 2014


A dear friend got married this weekend, and as they said their vows I began to ponder the power of spoken words. 

I believe that marriage is more than a signed slip of paper, a certificate, and a change in your tax status. But if a signed document isn't what creates a marriage, then what does? 

Every wedding ceremony incorporates the couple making a vow to each other,  "to have and to hold, in sickness and in health...". I remembered their vows- to choose love, to fight for love, to fiercely protect their family. Vows are more than  nice words scrawled on a napkin, these were the deepest utterings of their hearts spoken aloud. And there is something magical- that happens when the heart is given voice - a covenant is formed- a bond, a knitting together, a cleaving. 

But do words only wield their power when spoken in a wedding vow? Or at times of extreme emotion? Or does their power weave their way in everyday conversation? 

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21). Our whole existence was created by the breath of God, by the power of His word (Hebrews 11:3). Confession-our words- are an integral part of our salvation (Romans 10:9). Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29 that no unwholesome talk should come out of our mouths. And Jesus himself tells us that we will be accountable for the words we speak when we stand before him (Matthew 12:36-37). So words, the utterings of our heart, and even the flippant responses, bring with them the power to create-as in the case of the wedding vows- a beautiful covenant, or they have the power to destroy. 

How important it is then, that I should be more purposeful in the words I choose, and more diligent at guarding my heart and tongue from words that will cut, hurt, and wound. 

My husband refuses to let our children use the words "I'll try". Are you going to score a touch down today? "I'll try". Are you going to get good grades? "I'll try". That response, until recently seemed like a perfectly good response. Then he explained - the words "I'll try" leave room to not score a touch down or not get good grades. They allow for a slight expectation of failure.  He insists they instead use "I will..." and over the years as the children have shifted from "I'll try" to "I will" I have seen the difference. This doesn't mean they always succeed, and do everything perfectly, but their confidence entering into the task, and their strength in handling a failure have changed dramatically for the better. 

This got me thinking not only about the literal meaning behind the words we speak, but the connotation with which we use them. I know personally that when I get down, I struggle with negative self talk, and it has never- not once- improved my mental state of being. 

Now I'm not jumping on the "Name it Claim it" or "Blab it Grab it" bandwagon (been there done that and left disillusioned). However, I see how valuable words are in setting our hearts in the right direction, how powerful they are to create lasting bonds, and how beautiful they are when we give a voice to the deepest longings of our soul. 

What will you do with the words entrusted to you?  Will you uplift, encourage, and bring peace, mercy and grace? Will you create something beautiful?