We often overuse words, don’t we?
Love. The same word that is used to describe my feeling for my husband and kids, my feeling for my God and His adoration of me, is also used to describe my feeling for chocolate. And a hooded sweatshirt on a rainy day. And extra crunchy zesty dill pickles…
…And also standing in an office supply store looking at the bazillion choices of pens, sticky notes, and organizational supplies.
The same could be said for hate. I hate child abuse. I hate lies and what they do to people, families, and most importantly, to souls...
…I also hate folding laundry, approaching a light as it turns red, and looking at my now empty
coffee cup (who am I kidding, I wanted to say “bowl of ice cream.”)
I could go on… Crazy. The horrible shooting was crazy. As was the fact that 2 friends of mine that have no connection in my own world actually know each other outside of my own world, or the height to which my li’l mutt can jump from a sitting position, and also the deliciousness of chocolate silk pie. (Am I right, Matt and Tom?) It’s all crazy.
My purpose is not to make light of how much I love my family, or of the seriousness of child abuse or a terrible tragedy. It is to point out that we use words too broadly. Overuse them and misuse them. To the point they tend to lose their power.
Everything. All. Nothing. None. Always. Never.
These words – and others – keep jumping out at me lately. Such absolutes. Extremest extremes. Completely and fully, without exception. And yet…
“Everything’s gone wrong today.” Really? Not one thing has gone right?
“What did you do at school today?” “Nothing.” Hmmm…
“No one likes me.” I can think of at least a few people who might…
“I always get in the longest line at the grocery story.” Ok, maybe this one’s true.
And my kids’ personal favorites, “You always let him (or her) go first (or fill in the blank.)” And “I never get to do what I want!” Always and never??? I must be a terrible mother.
Unfortunately, I am just as guilty as they are. Maybe not of so much drama (no comment, Matt), but at least of the overuse/misuse of these words that have the capacity to carry much more weight than they typically do.
But these words, these extremest of extreme words, have been watered down, muddied. And they roll off our tongues as easily as love and hate and that crazy dog. And they land on ears that receive them with the same feebleness in which they were spoken. And the more they are used this way, the more their power is stripped, until eventually, they are incapacitated and carry no force at all.
But somehow, these most-extreme-lacking-all-power-words crawled into some space in my brain where they’ve sat patiently dormant, waiting to unleash their full strength. Lately, that is exactly what they’ve done. Every time (and yes, I mean every time) I’ve heard or read one of these words the past few weeks, the weight of what they carry with them has hit me. Hard.
And I’m learning that I’m a very slow learner.
Is it just me, or have you, too, read these verses a million times (ha! watery word?) and didn’t really consider the true full meaning because – just in our minds – the words have lost the force behind them?
Read these. Slowly. Consider their weight (although the emphasis is my own.) Because I’m pretty sure God doesn’t intend on us using a watered-down, muddied, lacking-power version of His Powerful Word…
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” ~ Philippians 4:6
This isn’t a new one. It isn’t one that really crept up on me, either. It’s one in which I’ve recognized it’s full power but have had to work on truly believing it and living in it’s full power. Different things. Can I really live not anxious about anything? Can I truly give everything to God? Tough request, for me at least. But I’m workin’ on it…
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Ok, yes. I know I should give thanks in all circumstances. Don’t always like it, but I know all circumstances means all circumstances. And lately, rejoice always has been a constant in-my-face reminder. And always is a lot of the time, you know. Rejoice? That much? Or how about the phrase in the middle? Pray without ceasing? Do you realize just how much that is? Yet, it is the will of God in Christ Jesus for YOU. And that means for me.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:3-4
Speaking from personal experience, it can be hard to feel like there is a God of any comfort in the midst of your own trial, let alone a God of all comfort. But now, a little further on the other side, I can see a bit more clearly. And I can see how my own affliction and God’s comfort through it has helped me comfort others with any affliction, even some vastly different than my own. Then that last phrase… I can only hope and pray.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31
All I do – including eating or drinking – should be to the glory of God. So I guess that includes teaching, parenting, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and sharing the road with Canadians. Yes, even standing in the longest line at the grocery store or… finding a place to park at (gasp) Costco. Do it to the glory of God.
“Let all that you do be done in love.” ~ 1 Corinthians 16:14
Oh dear. Now I’m sunk. All I do, as in every-little-thing I do, should be done in love? As in, the really-truly-Godly-kind-of-love? Not the I-really-love-crunchy-dill-pickles kind of love? Impossible! How can I? After all, I love my kids and husband so incredibly much and can only seem to demonstrate this to them some of the time. Lots of the time, I’m just a jerk. How can I possibly be loving to the mouthy student? Or to a student’s mean and hurtful and maybe even abusive parent? Or when it is 2 hours past my kids’ bedtime and they’re still awake doing everything they possibly can to make me not be loving?
Or when I’ve been hurt by someone and really would just rather write them off? Maybe I could just “write them off” in love? No???
All I do. Without being anxious, but with rejoicing. With thanksgiving, and while praying continually. For the glory of GOD, and all of it done in LOVE.
It seems like an impossible task.
And then this…
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” ~ 2 Peter 1:3
Read it again. Slowly.
Not impossible. And not if I just work harder, do better. Because on my own strength, it is impossible. But through my knowledge of him, and from his divine power I have everything I need for a godly life.