Words. I love words. I delight in their sound, their definitions, and their histories. I adore them strung together in harmonious poetry and harrowing stories of prose. I am captivated by the way they encapsulate memories for future reminiscing.
Most of all I am in awe of the power of words, in particular the power to encourage and build up. But, with the power to build up, also comes the ability to crush.
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
Proverbs 15:4 (NIV)
While I strive to develop and grow my muscles of encouragement through words, I openly confess that many times I have used my words to crush…sometimes intentionally, other times unintentionally. Those experiences create opportunities for me to use words to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes I just need Holy Spirit duck tape over my mouth so I leave words unsaid.
A Man of Few Words
My darling husband, Eric, on the other hand is a man of few words. He has taught me how delicious the choicest words can be. You see my husband does not have a gift of gab, but he has impeccable timing with the few words he does use.
When I was younger I had a vision of marrying someone incredibly romantic and elegant with their words. Someone who had a passion for stories, letter writing, and who would cherish words like I did. If I am really honest, I selfishly wanted someone who would pour words over me to feast upon day in and day out. So…not such a realistic vision.
Then there came Eric. I was surprisingly smitten with his lack of words. You see there was no meaningless flattery, or BS, or competitive conversation coming from his lips. The words that he chose to use were purposeful and marinated in meaning. They arrived to my heart warm and tender, juicy flavorful words, bringing a deep satisfaction.
The words that Eric gives me, they are absolute treasures. I am so richly blessed as his wife, to receive a greater portion of his words than any other soul walking this planet.
There are still many moments when I selfishly want more. I want more of his words covering me as we drift off to sleep. I want morning words to light my day with the kiss of a sunrise. I want “just because” words at unexpected times.
I also have the habit of matching Eric’s words in responses multiplied and magnified. If there is one person who gets the majority of my words, it’s my darling husband. He faces hurricanes with the winds of hundreds of thousands of words. I praise God for giving Eric so much patience with me, and for the gifts of Eric’s timely responses.
A Precious Response
There are many times I send words out into the world and to receive nothing in return. A card, a text, a call, a letter, an email, a blog, a post, a gift, all without response. Now it is not that my sole motivation is to receive a response, but I am human so sometimes the response is definitely a factor.
I really do try to send things out without predetermined expectation of getting a response. BUT…
What a gift and a treasure a response is!
To have that follow-up and receive feedback that the work that was put into shaping the thought, writing the card, crafting the letter, was valued. This is meaningful beyond words.
The part that makes a reply a gift, is the voluntary effort and the choice made by the giver of the response. It is not something they had to do, but that they chose to do.
Last week we experienced another setback on our farm. It happened the morning that my daughter and I were scheduled to leave to go visit my Mom. It needed to be dealt with ASAP and my husband was busy at work…which left me to deal with the mess, focus my thoughts on problem solving, and a big distraction from getting ready to go.
I tried my best to get things to a state manageable to be covered until my husband got home from work so we could leave. I have to admit that the problems at home consumed my thoughts for most of the drive which made me not the greatest travel buddy for my daughter.
I was so uneasy leaving without things being in an order that felt satisfactory to me, but I knew I just couldn’t cancel on my daughter and my mom. There was just a conflicting sorrow in my heart, splashed with a bit of guilt and regret. There was probably some fear seeping in as well wondering what would happen next.
When I called my husband that evening, to check in and follow-up his words were so gracious and he prayed for me in a way that was a rich blessing to my heart. Before I feel asleep that evening this text message came in.
Thanks for all the work you do to keep us going.
I can’t tell you the number of times in the past week I have looked at that text message and have been encouraged by it. I even made sure to lock it in my phone so I don’t delete it by accident.
What a gift his response was!
Live it Out
There are so many times that I have allowed something said to me, done for me, given to me, sent to me, go without response. So this message is perhaps for me more than anyone else, but I have been challenging myself to be more generous with the gift of a response.
When it comes down to it, the gift of a response is an action of gratitude, expressing thankfulness.
The most important response of all, is our response to all the Lord has given us. This life I live, the sins I have repeatedly committed, the struggles that I face, all are met and abundantly covered by the loving grace of the Lord. Our God who heals, who holds, who is love, who is strength, who provides, who listens, who comforts, who forgives…
What is my response to that?
Is my response to the Lord a gift? I am grateful and generous and filled with gratitude towards Him.
There is certainly nothing that I can do to earn or reciprocate a gift of infinite magnitude. But am I giving a beautiful offering of what I have, of what I can do, to the Lord?
I think of Mary in John 12 & Mark 14, taking a richly expensive perfume, pouring it on Jesus feet, and wiping them off with her hair. What a generous gift of a response to the love that had been shown to her! So lavish was her action that it was said to have filled the house with the fragrance of the perfume.
Are our homes filled with a fragrance of gratitude?
What choices can we make today to respond with the gift of gratitude towards the Lord for the gifts He has given us?
How can we give the gift of a gracious response to those whose lives interact with our own? What words can we choose to use? What actions can we apply?
May we all see greater value in the gift of our responses as we go about the journey of our daily lives.
Pray Through It
Lord, thank You for the gift of Your response to us. Lord, Your love, Your grace, Your forgiveness, are gifts of indescribable and priceless value. You listen to us, hear us, care for us even when we respond so poorly to You. Lord, may we be humbled by Your gifts to us.
In our humbling, may we find a welling up of gratitude and thanksgiving that would spring forth in our words and actions with a lavishness that leaves our lives offering a sweet fragrance to You. May a powerful praise rise up within us, that then refreshingly showers all around us as we seek to give the gift of response to those in our lives.
Help us to use the words and actions of our responses to build one another up. In the name of Jesus whose words and actions generously give us life. Amen.
I enjoyed reading this! I, too, am married to a man of few words and there are days when I want more and get frustrated. But thank you for the reminder of the timeliness of a response. Such a good reminder. Love you, Julie!
Sue, I understand that frustration too, because I have certainly experienced it. There are so many times where I have wanted much more than I have received. It’s really a challenge for myself to be grateful for what I do receive. When I reflect and look back, the few words that do come are so cherished to me, rightly said at the right time. May we press on together in gratitude, and the comfort of know we are not alone. You truly are a beautiful treasure!