You see, for as long as I can remember, words have mattered to me; I am a self-proclaimed over analyzer and words are often at the very center of what I am over analyzing. In the growth of my love for words I found that it was through the medium of them that I would best be able to express myself -- however writing them always came much easier than saying them aloud.
As I have grown in my relationship with Jesus, I have come to understand how important words are to Him, too. Annie F. Downs says it better than I probably ever could in her book, Let's All Be Brave:
Our words always matter. If we go back to the book of Genesis, where the world began, we see that God started it all with words. He spoke, and things became. Light. Land. Lizards. All with a word.
Proverbs 18:21 explains it in a pretty rad way, too.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (ESV)
And Proverbs 16:24 sheds light on the power of a word, as well.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. (ESV)
So, yeah, words are legit. They hold power -- to destroy, to lift up, to restore, to turn a world upside down.
Admittedly, I prefer the sort of words that raise the spirit of a heart, that lend a face to smiling, but we do not live in a world in which words exist merely on one side of this spectrum.
I have lived the last 26 (soon to be 27) years of my life under the false assumption that bravery went hand in hand with being a 'yes' type of person. In fact, I spent the majority of my twenties in a perpetual state of nodding affirmation. Yes, I will stay in this relationship, even though it's damaging us both, because it's comfortable. Yes, I will talk back disrespectfully to my father because I am woman, hear me roar. Yes, I will share a bed with you, and you, and you -- because I'm grown, I'm an adult, I am fearless, I am worldly, I am experienced. And, why yes, of course, I will come when you call, I will ignore all the ways you are wrong for me, I will shed my clothing, and along with it, my dignity - because saying yes means I am braver than I've ever been before.
Yes can be good, guys. Yes can most certainly be brave. But there are distinct moments of my life in which saying yes was, unequivocally, the weakest, poorest word I could have uttered.
I can tell you about a time, when 25 found me beaten and broken and bruised, when saying yes was to pull myself up and let Someone show me that victory had been purchased on my behalf.
But instead, let's talk about saying no. What about saying no is displaying bravado?
But brave people learn to say no. Most people wouldn't think of saying no as a quality of someone brave. Saying yes is certainly the more heralded option, but sometimes saying no can be the tougher choice by far. (Annie Downs)
The last month of my 26th year has left me slayed open. I was given the opportunity to say yes to something I've long been in prayer for; I have spent countless hours crying on a grey pillow case and furiously filling journal pages with the desire for a season to change in my life. I had been given the chance to say yes to a relationship - one that would lead to marriage.
My heart wanted to accept joyfully.
Every fiber in my soul wanted to shake my head frantically in an up and down motion - yes, yes, YES! Yes to all this that I have prayed so diligently for.
Only, it wasn't exactly the sort of offer I had been in prayer over. And so, my lips whispered a word that didn't lace many conversations in the last few years of my life.
No can be brave. No can be the most painful, heart-wrenching, treacherous word a young, single woman will ever utter. This no was all of those things - backed up by hard, shoulder shaken, ugly cries, sleepless nights, and literal hollering out to the Lord.
But, it was brave.
I said no to honor the woman I've become and still am becoming. I said no to not shove hypocrisy over the face of every prayer I've uttered and penned. I said no because I am not a 17 year old girl any longer and it's really time I start behaving that way. I said no, and it was brave, because there is nothing comfortable or soothing about denying something to yourself that only feels right.
This no is brave because I am not only putting to bed my first love, my first sexual partner, the first boy who ever took a piece of my heart and kept it --
This no is brave because I am putting to death the girl I was. I am mourning the loss of a 17 year old girl who foolishly put all her hope in the hands of a boy incapable of doing anything remotely productive with them.
I am graveside at the burial of my former self.
Words have power -- they hold life and healing and hurting. They leave a mark far longer lasting than any scar of the epidermis.
No packs bravery. Within the no of this last month before 27 is the knowledge of Who I am saying yes to.
And therein lies everything.