i have an obsession with language.
(you probably already know this.)
it might come as a surprise, but when i was in kindergarten, i used to get in trouble for talking too much. i got a lot of purple cards in the play center, while we made pretend grilled cheese sandwiches and acted like we were serving people in the drive-through.
i loved to write when i was in elementary school. elaborate and made up stories, with descriptions and plots and twists and turns. i played make believe in my head. i fell in love with literature – the good kind. little women and the giver, the secret garden and the little princess, and the weirdness of shel silverstein with the sadness of fiction about the holocaust.
i think that’s because, really, i love words. there is something beautiful and mysterious and wondrous about being able to string together consonants to say something true, and right, and kind, and good. to paint a picture. to tell of great sadness. to describe ecstasy. words can hurt people, and words can build people up.
it’s the reason that i love music that tells a story. the avett brothers and andrew peterson and josh garrels. and poetry. and why i probably send the longest text messages in the world, and really like writing letters (even though i need to do it more often), and think a mix CD is the best gift, and am terrible at receiving compliments but treasure them forever, long after they have been given, and the giver has forgotten about ever uttering or writing such encouragement.
i’ve been reading gilead (a recommendation from a friend, and a good one at that) – and am struck by marilynne robinson’s use of words throughout the novel. and sometimes, i feel just like john ames, lost in his world of books and sermon-writing, a bit separated from the world. john ames tells his son that for him, “writing has always felt like praying, even when i wasn’t writing prayers, as i was often enough. you feel that you are with someone” (robinson, gilead, 19).
for me, this is how writing often feels. it feels natural. is there something you love to do? is there something that makes you feel the most like yourself? for me, putting pen to paper (or, in this case, hands to keys on a typing keyboard) feels like the most natural thing in the world. i feel like myself. i feel like i am at home. (the other time i feel this way is when i’m rocking a baby, but that’s probably a different story for a different day). i feel like i am with you, when i write these things. i feel like i am praying, even when i string words together in a sentence and my pen hits the paper and i journal a prayer that is the hardest thing for me to write, let alone pray.
i didn’t always know how to express this part of who i am. i even might say that i didn’t really know this was part of me, until a while back when someone suggested that i should write about some of the sad and hard and good things, and put words to feelings. (they, of course, were right).
so this is why i write, and this is why i read, and this is why i love words, and feelings, and describing things, and deep intimate conversations, and long text messages, and kind notes. i love words. they are a part of who i am. i always feel like there is a story inside of me, waiting to come out. a thought, ready to be shared. of course, they’re not always good – or usually even the best quality – but sitting on the couch, thinking about life, and putting words and telling truth to the seasons i have seen helps me find perspective and find myself in the midst of it all – the chaos and the quiet.
i’m also struck by the beauty of our faith. that God is a God of words. a God who speaks into silence. a God who communicates with his people. a God who more than just tells a beautiful story, but has written a beautiful story – and allows me to play a very small part in the greater message of redemption. a God who isn’t deaf or dumb or mute but who comes and dwells among us. a God who speaks through the inspiration of his people, by means of the Holy Spirit. who has given us Scriptures and truth and words that point back to him, and to his goodness.
i’m thankful for words. i am thankful for mine. i’m more thankful for His.