As I've been developing Storyteller Station podcast and the Storyteller Nation Facebook group I've been thinking a lot about the power of story and the power of words. Some of are best at using words to tell our stories and to share our message, but others are masters of art and photography. I have a friend whose wildlife photography stirs emotions in me that I can't explain.
We all have that way that we best express ourselves. With Storyteller Station and in Storyteller Nation I want to honor the craft of storytelling in all its forms! For me, it is with words.
I revisited a blogpost I had written in March of 2015 regarding the power of the spoken word. This is a significant piece of my story, my breast cancer journey. I think the things I wrote then are pertinent now and I wanted to share them with you:
I’ve talked about my efforts to change my environment to make my body inhospitable to cancer but also to clear my mind of negativity and fear. I've taken the latter a step further. I realize it's one thing to target my thoughts and yet another to tame the tongue, to become aware of and purposeful with my words. Since starting chemotherapy last week and having lived the last few days in a painful fog from which I'm just now starting to resurface, this is proving to be more of a challenge for me. I want so badly to add an "I hate cancer" hashtag here or a "chemo sucks" there. I've refrained because here is what I believe: I believe our words have life-giving power. They have the power to bless or the power to curse. Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death…"
As I've worked on this in the last few weeks, I am in disbelief at some of the things I mutter under my breath. The words I say are reactionary words or statements, but I utter them nonetheless. Upon further reflection, I'm glad they are words or phrases that go mostly unheard by others, but I realize that if I speak them into being, whether they are heard directly or not, they still hold the same power. (Even if I'm the only one who hears…)
I would not want someone speaking words of negativity, pain, unrest, or worry over me as I am in the healing process, so why oh why would I speak those words over myself in a time of suffering? It is in the midst of that suffering and pain where I am in need of the most life-giving, positive, peaceful, encouraging language. In seeking this language to soothe and to heal, I am not diminishing my emotions or my suffering. I can freely admit that my head, face, mouth, and esophagus have been plagued with sores these last days and that I have been beyond exhausted to the point of being unable to maintain consciousness for a full three hours straight. It is not negativity that speaks when I recount that I have had stomach cramps and have had to fight for the energy to even talk to my kids, let alone play with them. And now, I am thankful to say that I am coming out of that cloud. I have more energy and have been able to stay awake all day today. I'm able to stand for several minutes at a time and have been able to eat a full meal.
In those difficult moments of the last few days, I told my husband that I felt defective and apologized for being unable to do much of anything. I learned that I am able to remain authentic and real about my situation while maintaining life-giving language because even in those dark moments, life-giving words came to my heart and mind. Pete would read to me from Prayers from the Heart by Richard J. Foster, to provide more words of encouragement, hope, and peace when I had no words.
One of the prayers he read is a very simple one from Lady Julian of Norwich. She shared that God, in His tender love, comforts all those trapped in pain and sin by speaking these words to them:
"But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."
All shall be well. I want to absorb these words, to feel them at the core of my soul. All shall be well. And because I want to integrate these words into my being, I choose to use the language of life and blessing, of hope and truth. And I pray with King David of old, "May the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer…" (Psalm 19:14).
I hope you found this encouraging and inspiring, or at the very least entertaining or maybe interesting! I do hope you will think about how you speak to yourself and that you will use today to be more aware of speaking life-giving words to yourself, to be kind to yourself.
Today, be aware that there is so much power in the spoken word.