In the beginning was the Word. The Word spoke the world into existence. The Word gave us words to shape our reality and the reality of those around us.
When two people get married, they exchange words, then words are pronounced to declare them husband and wife. When babies are born, parents give them a word to call them by. And from that point on for the next couple of decades, every word that comes out of their mouths shapes that baby’s world.
As my children are getting more verbal, they are saying things that I never said as a child, asking me things I never asked, and I am constantly taken off guard, searching for the right words. I need to take time to choose my words, because my words have the power to show them Love.
For the next few years, my words are how they know God and how they know themselves. My words, at least during their formative years, shape their reality.
And when they fight, and hit, and bite, and do all the things that kids do, I want to talk to them. I want to talk to them about love, Jesus’ love for us that makes it possible for us to love each other, love everybody else. I want them to know that love is the most powerful thing, more powerful than hate, more powerful than the sword, more powerful than death.
(Sidenote: If words are more powerful the sword, then they are more powerful than spankings, too. God’s Word is a two-edged sword and there’s an argument to be made that the rod of correction is His Word as well, not a literal rod.)
I’ve noticed that they already know this without realizing it. When they fight, one of the first things they say to each other is, “I don’t love you.” Or when they come crying, tattling, they say, “He doesn’t love me.” And I tell them that some words must never be spoken, some words must never, ever cross their lips. “I don’t love you” is not something we say in this family, because it is not true. I tell them, “It was wrong of him to do that. But he still loves you.” (Sometimes, that’s followed by a punch and I suppress the urge to slap everyone involved or run away screaming and crying, and I have to start all over again about kindness and the Golden Rule, blah blah blah.) But usually, after I tell them they love each other and tell them to hug, they start hugging and giggling.
I haven’t yet told them that if they keep saying something, it will become true. That is the power that words hold. If someone, anyone, is told the same thing over and over again, that will become true for that person, whatever it is. That is why there are some things that I don’t let them say.
The more you tell someone, “I love you,” the more you will love that person. And the more you tell someone, “I don’t love you,” the less you will love that person.
People use words in set ways and repeat things over and over again. We were created to say the same thing over and over again. We can choose what we say over and over again.
And that is why I want to sing. Songs are glorified words, words with extra power because they are beautiful and easy to remember and repeat. I am not doing a good job of singing anymore. We used to sing every day. I need to start that up again.
There are some things I tell my children and I try to tell them every day. I didn’t get to tell them today. I was too exhausted and then they all fell asleep. But last night, this is what I said to Thane as I held him before he fell asleep. He usually loves it when I start saying this and snuggles in close.
These are the words I tell my children. These are the words I want to shape them with. As they get older, what I repeat will change and grow. But for now, I think this is what they need: love and assurance of love.
God loves you. God loves you so much He sent Jesus down to this earth. Jesus loves you so much He paid for all your sins and conquered death and Satan. (Mama! The dragon! He killed Satan! Like Saint George!) And then the Holy Spirit came down to be with us always, everywhere.
You are my favourite Thaney. You are my favourite 2-year-old in the whole wide world. I will always, always, always love you.
Daddy loves you. Mama loves you. Bubu loves you. Buddy loves you. Baby Prester loves you.* We will always love you. Always, always. Forever and ever.
*(Occasionally this section becomes really long as he starts adding grandparents, uncles, kids from church, random strangers at the park, characters from books and Netflix … “Spiderman loves me? Clifford loves me?” “Ahhh, uhhh, yeah, Thaney.” Let’s go back to “Daddy loves you. Mama loves you.”)
These ideas pretty nearly all came from the books by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy that my father introduced me to (I miss you, Papa!). All my books are sitting in boxes after my third move in 8 months and because Life keeps chucking things above the bookshelves in the priority on our shopping list, I can’t get to them yet so I have no quotes or anything from him.
If you enjoy having your mind blown away and then put back together in a way you could never have imagined, start reading some of his books.