words matter


Ask anyone who knows me: I am a wordsmith. Word nerd. Wielder of words. I love learning new words, carefully choosing the right word for the moment, using words with intentionality and purpose. Language is finite, which just kills me, but I will try my darndest (not a word) to use language and words to communicate my heart and intent and convictions and hopes.

I. love. words.

When my husband and I were in our premarital counseling, we covered the obligatory "love language" section of the study. You probably know the list: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, physical touch, acts of service. Most acts of love can be generally characterized into these five categories. While I do enjoy quality time and I am grateful for acts of service (physical touch and gifts almost don't even rank for me), it is words that most deeply and effectively and profoundly make me feel love. My husband could clean the whole house top to bottom and I would be so thankful for the rest. He could spend big bucks on an amazing getaway for us and I'd relish the quality time with him. But when he takes time to thoughtfully and carefully pen his love to me, his faith in God's hand over our family, his heart for our marriage...my little love bucket begins to fill in really big ways.

I'm noticing in my other relationships how much this matters as well. When my friends or ministry partners make time for thoughtfully sharing their hearts with grace and honesty, I feel loved, respected, valued. I enjoy a good hangout as much as the next person (Okay, less. Less than the next person. Introvert here!) and I could care less if you want to buy me all the prizes and presents in the world (not that I won't enjoy them!). But when a friend applies her heart and vocabulary to sharing life in meaningful ways, I am buoyed. Strengthened. Brought to hope. Renewed in faith.

Words have a particular power. I read words, I read the Word, I search for the right words.

Words matter deeply to me.

And I have realized of late the futility of using finite language to speak of and engage with an infinite God.


He seems far off when I use that word. Is there a better one? One that describes His never-ending existence without limiting Him to a western vocabulary? A word that captures His timeless, abiding love (without minimizing the vast and sovereign holiness of it)?

Oh, He is near. Nearer than my very breath is the Author of the greatest story ever told, using language in ways we cannot fathom. Speaking things into existence with a Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus... The Word made flesh, dwelling among us --the linguistically limited-- speaking words on mountainsides and writing in the mud and reading words at the synagogue. He spoke in parables and metaphors, His head-scratching disciples nodding along.

Jesus the storyteller. Jesus the teacher. Jesus the prophet. Jesus the King, the logos, uttering words and phrases the people found familiar and then turning them completely upside down.

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven."

Did He ever feel frustrated by that? Divine thoughts in a human brain, eternal words with a human vocabulary.

Jesus is the word and He made words and He used words to reveal Himself to us and He gives us words to share in love, to forge peace, to embolden the fearful, to exhort the weary. Jesus made words.

It's not all He made. Of course. But these days I am all up in the words in so many ways.

So for one wordsmith, pecking away at a keyboard in between naps and grocery runs and reading storybooks and sharing popsicles with tinies, knowing that I hold in my head and heart and hands the gift of holy words is...well... I don't know that I have the word for it. But I'm searching and I'm listening, waiting for just the right one, at just the right time, from the One who holds all the words.

beliefsarah sandelComment