No doubt, words are important to me – I’m a writer. Looking back, I’ve always been a “word” person. I love the way words can convey thoughts and feelings, and I am captivated by the power of spoken and written language.
Think about it. Words have the power to inspire hope, courage, discipline, rage, kindness, knowledge, wisdom… You name it. It doesn’t matter if the message is brought in the form of poetry, music, literature, theatre… or even rap music. When put together effectively words are powerful.
Even the Bible says words are important. Just do an internet search for the power of words and you’ll see how many times scripture talks about the good and bad impacts for what we say. My own search resulted in just about a thousand verses. For example: Proverbs 11:9 says that evil words destroy, and Proverbs 15:4 says that gentle words bring life and health. Good and bad – words matter.
The world has a lot to say to and about us. People around us speak to us and over us. From the moment we’re born, words begin to flow over and through us. In fact, it likely starts before we take our first breath, because some studies say unborn babies start hearing sound at around 18 weeks in the pregnancy. So, it got me thinking about the impact words have on us.
This is important because it can impact who God created us to be. We’re created with identities that declare who we are. But the messages we receive can and do shape what we believe about ourselves and the world around us. One need only study the impacts of generational belief systems to understand that we grow up biased by the messages we are given.
If the words we hear and see impact what we believe, then it stands to reason, the messages not only impact how we see the world around us, they impact how we see ourselves – whether good or bad.
Most people filter the world through the lens of the words they heard growing up. So, a child who grows up with words that were positive and affirming will likely grow up be a person that sees themselves as valued and loved. It’s not foolproof, of course, because we are still bombarded by what the world says. But it certainly seems more likely.
What about the child that grows up hearing words that tear down, and diminish their value? What happens when the words given shame and damage the child? I can tell you the outcome of that experience, because as far back as I remember, the words I heard were: unwanted, unloved, and mistake.
Those words were damaging. They were so powerful it felt like they filled every part of me. What I heard became who I was and drove my behavior. I believed I was a mistake and had no value, so a was self-destructive. I believed I was unlovable, so I sought after countless relationships with men who were as broken as I was. It impacted my life and the chaos and mess further supported my broken beliefs.
I lived out what I believed for a good part of my life. People tried to help, but since my identity was clouded my beliefs, their well-intentioned advice never took hold. You see the roots of my belief system went deep. Only one thing could heal and change that kind of wound, and that is God’s word. And that is exactly what happened.
A simple sheet of paper given to me by a friend changed my life completely. On that paper were three columns: what you believe, what God says, and the scripture reference. That’s it. Her challenge to me was to read one line every day.
So, not being one to back down from a dare, I did it.
In the beginning, I didn’t see how it could work – I didn’t exactly believe what I was reading. They were nice promises and all…. But truthfully I didn’t “feel” they were true for me.
But I continued to read one daily. When I got to the end of the list… I started over. I didn’t feel anything different at first. But then… slowly, I began to think differently about myself. Eventually my feelings followed what I believed, and my behavior shifted as well.
It worked because I began to see how God saw me. Until I saw myself through His perspective, nothing could have changed. God’s word changed me. Romans 12:2 says our minds are transformed through God’s word. It was true for me, and I believe it is true for you my friend. And the crazy thing is you don’t have to “feel” it for it to work!
God wants you to be set free, and He’s given you a way to do that through His word. It’s one of the reasons I am so in love with scripture. I believe it has transformative power to heals and restore.
Scriptures tell us that before we’re even born, God set us apart. (Jeremiah 1:5) He made us and He knows exactly who we are before we are born. Our identity is created for the purpose God has planned for us in advance, but the world and the words around us can impact that identity.
Well friends, I’m here to tell you God can and does restore. That is the message behind “Beauty for Ashes.” The promise is restoration of all that is broken and damaged in our lives. And it starts when we take the time to find out who God says we are.
So, here’s what I want you to know:
You don’t have to believe you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) … you are!
You don’t have to believe God says you are How precious (Psalm 36:7) … He does!
And you don’t have to believe His love is forever (Psalm 136:26) … it is!