I’m the girl with all the words, the person who always has something to say or an opinion to share. I’ve never had an issue with having words. Sharing those words, however, is another story entirely. Sometimes I just don’t say all the things I want to say – all the things I should say. I always have plenty of good things to say to and about people. But why is it so hard to say the right things?
Yes, I’m the word girl, but sometimes that hinders me. You see, I write. (A lot, obviously.) And I like all my words to come out perfectly. Words are very important to me, so I always want to think them through before I share them. That, however, is part of the problem. I prefer to tackle conversation in the same way that I tackle writing: I create multiple drafts, proof, edit, and revise.
But real life doesn’t work that way.
In real life, you don’t get to give everyone the third draft of what you want to say. Sometimes you just have to say what is right – and sometimes you have to be okay with it being the “rough draft.” I like to say exactly what I mean, precisely as I mean to say it. When I can’t do that, sometimes I simply settle for saying nothing at all. And that is a dangerous course of action. Why don’t I tell the people I love all the things I appreciate about them? What makes it difficult to share about how they bless my life? What makes it difficult to give compliments or to engage people in conversation? What makes it so difficult to build relationships and share my words? What makes it so difficult to share my heart and all the good thoughts I am already thinking? The words are all there, but I just can’t get them out sometimes.
As I pondered this conundrum, Romans 10:14 came to mind. In regard to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, Paul writes:
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”
The passage goes on to describe the beauty of the Good News being brought, and that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (v. 15). Being familiar with this verse, I have always thought, “Yes, yes – we do need to share the Gospel, because everyone should have the opportunity to hear about Jesus!” I always took these verses strictly in the context of evangelism – “getting people saved” and all that. Of course people need to be told about Jesus in order to hear! The telling comes before the hearing, and the word of God is the foundation and the fullness of what we share – both in the sense of “the word of God” being Scripture and it being the person of Jesus Christ. Amen! Good stuff.
But what if there’s more to it than that initial telling? God’s grace is very great, and His kindness toward me has been relentless. What if I, out of neglect or fear, have been withholding the kindness of God from the people around me? By not speaking up – or not acting – have I denied others opportunities to experience the kindness that God longs to lavish upon them? “Oh, God forgive me.” This is the cry of my heart as I fall to my knees in repentance. This is my confession that I haven’t been living or loving as well as I should be – and it hurts to acknowledge that failure.
Not doing the wrong thing is not equivalent to actually doing the right thing.
Did I spew angry words from a heart full of hate? Was I intentionally cruel or unkind? Did I speak lies over people’s lives or spread ugly rumors? Were my thoughts dark and my actions harsh? No, but neither was I intentional about loving others well. It really isn’t the thought that counts.
What do I mean by that? You see, salvation isn’t the ultimate goal of Christianity; if it were, there would be no purpose for the lives we now lead. Jesus could simply have rescued us from sin then brought us to dwell with Him in heaven, content at the Father’s side. But the Good News doesn’t end with the Cross. Life with Jesus is a journey that we walk out day by day, with each decision and every breath. As sons and daughters of the living God, we are called to live completely new lives on this side of the Cross, lives devoted to the telling of His goodness. Ours is not merely hope for the moment of salvation; our Hope is Jesus, who calls us to carry this Good News farther and deeper in our own lives and the lives of the people around us.
The kindness of our Lord is both relentless and intentional – and that kindness doesn’t end with the Cross. I cannot – I will not withhold the fullness of God’s kindness from the people around me because of my own desire to have my words be “just right.” There are times for getting it “just right,” but there are also times when we simply need to do what is right, obeying God’s nudging on our hearts and not worrying about perfection. Life is messy and people aren’t perfect, but the sharing the kindness of God is never wrong.
Think about what Scripture — or church history, for that matter — might have looked like had Peter not corrected the onlookers’ misconceptions about Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2) because he wanted to make sure he could explain the Gospel perfectly? What would we think if Paul had not taken the opportunity to minister wherever he went, at every opportunity, because he was worried about how his words might come across to others? What would have happened if some of our Biblical heroes had not done the right thing in the moment — if Esther had not gone before the king to save the Jews (Es. 4-8) because she was worried about saying the wrong thing? What if Ruth, who is part of the ancestry of Jesus Christ, had not courageously chosen an unorthodox course of action and married Boaz (Ruth 4)? What if Abigail had not stopped David from killing Nabal (1 Sam. 25) — would David have been the man after God’s own heart that we remember today? If people had not set aside their fears of human frailty and taken the opportunities God gave them to say and do the right things in the moment, Scripture would be empty of the rich legacies of obedience that we have.
I wish that I always had just the right words to respond to deep grief. I wish that I always had the perfect words to counteract painful pasts and disappointed hopes. I wish that I could always explain myself and share my thoughts with clarity so that people around me understand fully. I wish that I always had just the right words for those important moments of life. I wish that prayers always came out like they were in my head. That would be great – but it isn’t really the most important thing. The most important thing is to do what God says is right – even when it is difficult or imperfect. When we don’t take the opportunities that God places before us, we tend to end up with missed adventures and regrets over the things we should have said or should have done when we had the chance.
Today I am deciding to live unafraid of imperfection. I will speak the good things that I am thinking, and I will share my heart with the people around me. I am choosing to do what is right in the moment, because it is in those raw, rough-draft moments that life is lived most freely and the kindness of God is experienced most fully. I hope that you will choose to enjoy this adventure with me, embracing the unpolished, unadulterated goodness of God’s heart toward you and the people around you.
Thanks for sharing your heart, Sabra. As spirit filled believers we can trust the Holy Spirit to give us the words, even as imperfect as we think they might sound. In my life I also have remained quiet when I’m not sure what to say, being shy (or reserved). Many in my past thought me conceited when really I was unsure and actually fearful. Having Jesus in my life has given me more confidence. I have always seen you as so sure of yourself. I love the way you use your brain dictionary to express your thoughts in writing AND speaking!! This IS an adventure as we embrace the goodness of our Father’s heart of love and share it unreservedly, freely in freedom without any condemnation. I love you, Honey. Grandma