Words… Spoken words… or written words… I’ve been thinking a lot in the past year about how words impact our lives. Today I’m going to talk about written words.
A bit of a back story: When I was a little girl traumatic incidents left me feeling like I had no voice, and that even if I did speak, no one would believe me. Lies. All lies! I remember entering my school years with a determination to learn how to read and write. I remember the first time I was given a creative writing assignment and my own diary. Suddenly through written words I felt like I had an outlet for expressing my deepest feelings. I was terrified of someone reading them though, so I destroyed most of my diaries by tearing out pages and shredding them after I wrote. With creative writing, I could write a story about a fictional character and weave my feelings into my writing. Somehow it made me feel better. Pen and paper became my outlet for the things I was too afraid to speak, and when I lost the use of my right arm for a length of time I learned how to type left handed, password protect documents, and hide the writing on the screen from other people. I would sketch out a stick figure representing me and little bubbles with words of what I was feeling or facing surrounding my head while my feet stood on rocks filled with the facts and circumstances that put me there. Writing became my way to try to process what I felt, and it was my preferred method of communication. Writing left little room for error or misunderstanding. Writing felt safe and happy because no one could try to silence what they did not hear and I could control how much they saw. Sharing my writing or speaking about how I felt was scary and vulnerable. I did not like scary and vulnerable. But that’s no way to live! I am so thankful that caring people reached out to me and walked alongside me, ever pushing me into the scary and vulnerable areas, which, by the way, are not as scary and vulnerable once you know your identity! Writing was a tool that helped me find the courage to speak. I remember the first time that I read something I wrote to a group of writers; my knees and voice shook, my palms were sweaty, my head throbbed, and I wondered if it was going to explode. Tears pushed their way out of my eyelids, blurring my vision, and I thought I would pass out. Although everyone was kind and supportive, I sat down afterward and vowed to myself that I would never speak to crowds. I could write, but I would adopt a pen name, and hide somewhere so I wouldn’t need to speak! While speaking to more than 5-10 people does still make my knees feel weak, it is a fear I have confronted, and continue to confront. Whether public speaking is my gifting or not, the fear of it does not need to define or control me! And that’s a bit of how and why I got started writing. Today I still enjoy time alone with a paper and pencil or a clunky, noisy keyboard. I have lots of writing goals, but life is busy and I’m also working on a bigger project that consumes much of my writing time which is why I have not posted much for a while. But today, I decided to do something spontaneous and write down some of the thoughts about writing that are rambling through my brain!
So without further ado here’s what I like and dislike about written words.
- Written word leaves little room for misunderstanding as long as your word choice is precise and well thought out. It is far more binding than spoken communication, and is best used for businesses and agreements wherever possible to avoid error. Written or spoken– words have impact. One big problem with written words is that the tone of voice is missing which can cause misunderstandings. Depending what you need to communicate it is still better to speak it so it can be heard and received in its intended voice tone meaning. Social media is largely written, or recorded voice, and we tend to feel “safe” because we can post words and pictures and keep our distance from the real issues. Because we feel so safe we tend to forget that we still have to give account for the things we say on social media. I believe that written word, once shared with an audience holds as much weight as saying it to a person’s face. I wonder how Social media would look if we all stopped and read our post out loud first, and then asked ourselves how we would feel if we heard someone talk this way to us or a loved one. Just because something is true does not mean it needs to be gossiped about or even spoken about in anything less than an intentional and loving way! If it is an issue between ourselves and another person we should be grown up enough to pick up the phone, meet face to face or at least open our email and work it out with those involved. Words can damage or build up, and if we wouldn’t want it said to or about our loved ones, then we would do well to forget about posting it and work through the real issue at hand. (Social media and cyber bullying is really another topic on its own!)
- A written list of goals helps give me a visual of the things I want to work toward. If I am planning an event or have a dream or vision of something to be brought into fruition, it really helps to sketch it out and make a list of things that I will need in order to be successful. While making lists and goals are great ways to start a project or solve problems they can also be unrealistic! I often tend to think that if I can write it on a piece of paper I can get it done in a day, and that simply is not always a possibility. I also tend to forget that just because I can hold five lists in my hand doesn’t mean that I should do it all by myself. In fact there may be five people who can do a much better job at taking over parts of a project than me! I have really had to work with being okay with asking for help. (Yet another topic.) Most importantly we should pray about our goals and seek God’s plan above our own. If He gives us the dream- it is for a reason, and He can bring it about!
- Writing helps me de-clutter my brain. My mind probably most closely resembles either a jumble of wires or a browser that has many tabs open. I like to have variety in my life. I like to think of it as cooking a meal. I’m constantly fussing over one kettle, but have several more simmering on the stove. There does come a time to complete each thing though, and that’s where my struggle lies. I would love to just hand half cooked kettles over to the next person walking into the kitchen and go light another stove in another kitchen, but life simply does not always work that way. So if I have 2,001 things to do in a day and I hardly know which way to turn first, it helps me to grab a cup of coffee, a pen and paper and write out everything I need to do. Next I reorder the list, putting the tasks in order of importance and with other tasks of similar type where I can multi task. While the sight of a well ordered planner, notebooks, flair pens, and freshly sharpened pencils make me feel all squirmy and happy inside some people want to run the opposite direction. Planners and to-do lists do not work for everyone and for every situation. I know of some people who can accomplish a mountain of work without writing out a list, and that’s okay. Most of the people I know who do life beautifully without a planner also have the amazing ability to pick one project and stick to just that one thing until it is finished. I love to have friends who have this amazing gift. I need people like that in my life to bring some order into my chaotic bunny trails, keep my feet on the ground, and help me bring my half started ideas to completion! I do not always plan my days, and still get things done, but it helps me stay focused if I have a list of the things I hope to get done as well as the events and deadlines that I have approaching. If I am not careful, I will easily plan to meet for two separate things on the same night! I am more of a spontaneous dreamer and by writing things on paper I can free my mind to think about something else and check my list to keep me on track with deadlines and appointments. However when writing out a plan, it is easy for me to get a picture in my head of how my day should go and then get frustrated when it does not go to schedule. I like being available to drop things and go somewhere at a moment’s notice. At one time that nearly derailed me, and I was constantly frustrated that my plans wouldn’t work out. Since then I have found that it is so much more rewarding to write my plans and be okay if they change. I do still occasionally get frustrated, when I can’t just drop things and go somewhere else. What helped me was to write down what I did instead of the things I had to cross off my list. In time, I was able to look at my planner at the end of the day and laugh, before re-writing a list for the next day. As a teacher, I sometimes felt like crying when I looked at my plan book at the end of a long hard day. One day I took the challenge of sitting down and writing what I did do, and suddenly I realized that what I did get done was so much more important for that day then what I had planned to begin with. So when I write my schedule I want to write it in pencil not in concrete! I want my schedule to allow spontaneity.
- Writing something validates it. I can not stress this enough. Writing is often the first step in making a dream a reality. Seriously folks! There is so much power in writing the things that God reveals to you. There is a place for speaking them too, and I don’t want to downsize the importance of speaking them, but there is so much power in sketching out the dreams God gives you, and the vision you have. This is one thing I am trying to be better at- to write the things that are impressed upon my heart from day to day. I have seen where a small moment that was impressed upon my heart that I took the time to jot down tied into something later and became a useful tool in my life. I have a note book app on my phone, and I also try to keep pen and paper with me. If it makes an impression on me, or stirs my spirit, I try to capture it in words, or take a picture and write about it later. By recording it I can capture it and retrieve it so that I can remember it when I need it.
- Writing is a tool that helps me to spill out anger and pent up feelings, or difficult circumstances. After I have written and cried out all the feelings, I pray through each detail, forgive the person or persons, and destroy the paper. Forgiving without releasing the pain is really rough because it is like putting a band-aid on top of an infected cut. The wound needs to be cleaned, and allowed to heal! Writing is not the cure. That being said, Writing alone is not always enough, there have been times when I wrote it out, cried it out, and prayed about it, and still needed to just pick up the phone and call a friend and ask her to pray with me about something. Sometimes it needs to be spoken. Writing could be a tool in your healing process, but don’t feel bad if it isn’t. Also just as you don’t want to carry a grudge around for the rest of your life, if you do write it, don’t carry the paper trail of grudges with you! When those things have been processed, dealt with, and taken care of, get rid of those papers! Besides it really is a satisfying feeling to see those things you have forgiven and all the bad feelings you have go up in smoke or be scattered into tiny bits. It’s like giving it to God and allowing Him to take the broken pieces and ashes to form into something new and beautiful.
- Where would we be today without the Bible having ever been written. God inspired men to write about the things they saw, heard, and observed as a record for the generations to come. Writing it validated it, and while opinions abound the original writing is still there and as unchanging as ever. If someone who did not live in that time wrote about it now, we would question the validity of their writing. Even today we measure things by the written Word. The record was kept, and the promises haven’t changed. I took the challenge to copy a whole book of the Bible making it personal as if it was written for me, and it was really a game changer in my mind. Writing it, and seeing it in print as written for me helped my mind to absorb some powerful truths that I struggled with.
Well, that sort of sums up my ramblings about written words. I feel like it was really a scattered topic that tied into so many other topics that would warrant a deeper look at. Whether written or spoken, words contain power, and we do well to allow God to guide us in how we use the voice He gave us. If you have ever felt like your voice was choked- take heart! God gave you a voice to use for His glory that the enemy wants to silence or distort. Amazing things happen when we allow God to use our voices to bring light and hope into the world!