Oh, how many times I have dreamed of being more than I am. Of being the person I wish I was. Of saying the things I wish I could say.
But words – such wispy, phantom things. And yet they have a way of either weaving the fraying strands of your happiness or ripping you apart.
People always tell me that I am good with words, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They read what I’ve written, edited, and perfected in countless hours and tell me it must come easy to me. It doesn’t.
I walk up onto the stage, stare into bright lights, speak my heart, they applaud, I bow, and everything moves on. They tell me how gifted I must be and all I can manage is to murmur a thank you, and my words stumble over each other and they look surprised – disappointed even. Because not everything is as it really seems, and I am not the powerful wielder of words that they think I am, that I wish I was. When given a paper and pen, and the good part of the day, I may manage to write something that makes sense. But ask me a question in person, and I freeze. I stare, in silence, dumbfounded, no words coming to my aid for any coherent thought in my head.
The strongest desire of my heart is, that somehow or in some way, I could harness the power of words and use it to repair hesitant hearts, hurting souls, or a broken world. And how many times has the opportunity come, that all rhetoric and words flee my mind? That I sit there, stupidly, at a loss, grasping for phantom words hanging in the air between us to soothe and repair, only to end up mumbling something about God’s sovereignty or grace, and then sitting there in helpless silence.
Have you ever felt the brokenness of the world? Have you ever had to talk to a mother who spent sleepless nights surrounded by the rush of nurses and bright lights and white walls, watching her newborn covered in tubes and IV’s struggling to breathe? Or maybe it’s an older woman, crying into your shoulder after confiding about her abusive past which she still hasn’t recovered from. A hurting friend who doesn’t see how things can possibly get better. Or an 11 year old asking the tough questions you’ve wondered the answers to yourself.
And sometimes you question the extent and power of Christian love when words fail? I do. Sometimes I really do. If the balming, healing power of words can’t soothe, then what can?
But maybe, perhaps, that is enough. Maybe – maybe I have no power over words, or can’t summon my writing muse on command, but maybe … the truth of the gospel and of God’s unconditional love is enough, because really, when it comes down to it, we’re all just walking each other home.
As Christians, we are not called to always be able say the right things, to be skilled rhetoricians, or to have perfect eloquence. We are called to speak the truth of the gospel and to reach out to the needy with the open arms of Christ’s love. No special rhetoric. No fancy words. No perfectly scripted speech. Feeling incompetent or helpless in those situations doesn’t disqualify us from being used by God.
In the end, you listened and you loved and you cared and, sometimes, that is enough.