I am learning to really value the power of words. It may sound hokie, but I really believe the words we speak about ourselves either strengthen the Spirit's work, or quench it. God created the world by speaking it into being...and I believe He highly values words because He knows the power of words.
In the New Testament, the majority of Jesus' miracles take place because He speaks healing to a person, or deliverance. He doesn't get on the ground and wrestle demons out, massage sicknesses from a person's body, or do a dance to raise someone from the dead. He uses His words. I think this is also why God puts so much emphasis on calling Satan the father of lies. The devil speaks lies to us, and his words have the power to enslave us if we're not listening for the Good Shepherd's voice, and dwelling on His word, and words about us and who we are. If I've not convinced you that words are powerful, go read for yourself, and if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me.
Over the past few months I keep finding so many verses that emphasize the power of the spoken word.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" proverbs 18:21
"if any of you love life and desire to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies." psalm 34:13
"If anyone does not stumble in what he SAYS, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity, the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets fire on the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell." James 3: 2,6
And so I've been praying about and trying to apply this lesson in large and small instances in my every day life.
Exhibit A: When Chad asks me if I want a Dairy Queen Blizzard, instead of just saying yes, I've been trying to say, "Actually Chad, I am not really a sweets kind of person. Sugar and desserts just aren't for me. I actually don't enjoy blizzards." Inside, my innerself is gawking at me in disbelief. She's reminding me that I drink sugar in the morning, with a few scoops of coffee...but I keep trying to talk myself out of my sweet tooth. Okay so maybe this isn't the best example, as I have yet to really break myself of a sweet tooth.
A better example is trying to speak against insecurity. Chad and I spent the better part of our engagement collecting marital counsel from every godly couple who was willing to share with us. Some of these couples listened to me cry my eyes out about a bunch of lies I had believed about marraige, about Chad, about myself. One man in particular began to always address me by saying, "Charis, because you are insecure..." and he would go on from there. A few months into marriage we were still hanging out with this couple a lot, and he would continually tell me how insecure I was. One night, on our way home from their house, I was feeling really bothered by it. And I felt like in my heart the Lord just said, "You're bothered because he is not speaking the truth about who you are." Jesus did not die so that I could waver back and forth between insecurity and security. I turned to Chad and announced, "I am not insecure." He was suprised, and laughed a little bit, and then agreed with me. I started to really take care to not call myself insecure, even if I felt a little insecure every now and then...because in reality, insecurity is not who I am. Its probably been a little bit over nine months, and I can't tell you the last time I spent even an hour wasting my time over insecure thoughts. Praise God.
This whole emphasis on the power of words has really been taking a toll on my wit, sadly. I can't be as self-degrading as I would normally. I can't call myself lazy, untalented, unathletic, flakey, a terrible friend...etc. I actually have to really watch my tongue. And guard my mind. But what I've noticed is that I really feel better most days. When the laundry has piled up around the house and I am sitting with Eden on the floor thinking about how little motivation I have to actually work, I say out loud "I am made to be productive, and I am not a lethargic human. I love to work hard and be diligent." And the funny thing is, no lightening strikes me. In fact, I feel more motivated. Maybe its because my words become little cheerleaders, rather than little doom-bringers. (And I probably sound insane to anyone who happens to be listening to me, but if anyone is listening to me talk to myself while I am inside my own home, they probably are a little cooky too)
Taking my words captive has even helped me in relationships: A few months ago there was a situation in my life that was so difficult for me, that even the mention of someone's name brought up so much emotion in my heart that I had to literally stop talking about it. I began to just tell the Lord when I was bothered, and I started trying to speak life back into my heart towards this person. I started saying how much I enjoyed this person, how much I valued them, how I wanted to love them. And in just a few months, I began to realize I really did love them. My heart had changed. My words had paved a way for my emotions to follow. My dad always told me when I was younger that God's word at work in our mind should be the head of our train, and our emotions should be the caboose. We don't follow our feelings, we follow the reality of God's words and basically turn our back on emotions until they line up with what God says about us and towards us. Its amazing how effective positive words are.
Someone once suggested that the enemy can't read minds, but he can hear our words. If that's the case, I am going to walk around telling him exactly who I want to be in the Lord. Shouldn't we all? Speak a little bit of life back into our lives.