I hold the Guinness World Record for carrying the heaviest weight for the longest time. True story … sort of.
Each morning for the last 50 years or so I picked up the heaviest bag I could possibly carry and hauled it around with me all day long. At the end of the day, before retiring for the evening, I would set it bedside, ready for the next day’s journey. I became so accustomed to it that sometimes I would plop it on the mattress beside me because I didn’t want to be separated from my beloved bag.
What was the back-breaking cargo I lugged around daily?
Words spoken to me. Words spoken against me. Sharp words, hurtful words. Fighting words, final words. Words intended for another. Words unspoken because of fear. Words withheld that should have come out. Words in the morning, words in the evening, words at suppertime. Baked words, stewed words, fricasseed words … It was a huge bag, a HEAVY bag.
Words can be treasured … words like “I love you,” “I believe in you,” “You matter.” Sweet, uplifting, encouraging words dance weightlessly through your heart and mind reminding you that you are special.
The “You’ll never,” “You always,” “Why aren’t you XYZ” words … those are the weighty ones.
Most valuable are words of truth. Whether intended for correction, disciplining, or encouraging, words of truth bring life to one another. Is it any wonder that satan seeks to stifle the mouths of those whose aim is to speak truth into others’ lives? He found a temporarily successful accomplice in his mission — Jezebel.
Widely known as a heartless, cruel idolater of Baal, she forced her will upon Israel as she tried to drive out the true prophets of God from the land. She sought to silence Truth.
I was a timid child and didn’t speak up for myself. When I was very young, a child bit my arm hard enough to leave teeth marks. I was urged by her mother to bite back to teach the child a lesson, but I wouldn’t. My timidity hung around. Later in life, words spoken to me brought death to my dream of having children. In both instances — and countless others in between — I believed a lie: I am not allowed to create a boundary of protection. The seed was planted very early in my life that I had no voice.
Instead of unpacking what I wanted to say, I put the words in my bag and carried them around with me. The bag became my friend. I could open it up and look inside and recall all of the hurtful occurrences in my life and continue to rehearse what I would say in long-gone circumstances. My lexicon grew daily.
But because of God’s grace, after decades of self-victimization, He was finally able to convince me that what had been occurring far too long only brought death to me. Nothing good came from the words others had said that I would repeat to myself. When I started actually listening to what I was saying and acknowledged they were words I would never say to someone else because they were the spawn of the enemy of life, I decided the words had to go. I replaced the negative, life-killing self-talk with affirming, life-giving messages: “You do matter in this world, Pam. You deserve better treatment. You are strong. You are capable. You are loved. You can protect yourself.”
I travel lighter these days, carefully accepting and sharing words I give, choosing to live in the Tree of Life.
What are you carrying in your bag?
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Pam Weyant recently traded the harsh Midwestern winters for the sunny South. When she is not spending her time as a freelance court reporter, you will find her loving up her adorable cocker spaniel, hiking, traveling, writing creative nonfiction, or working out. Her passion is sharing her story so others can join her in celebrating the freedom found in a redemptive Savior