I believe in the power of words. They can uplift or crush. Inspire or depress. It is all dependent on how you interpret them. A kind word can make your day. A harsh one can ruin it. I have always loved picking words and stringing them together so that they flow. The right word at the right time thrills my heart and sets it on a course to reveal itself. Much like painting opens my eyes visually and stretches my vision, words open my heart and allow me access to its depths. They allow me to connect with others…or not.
Words create my attitudes. Actually it is not the words themselves, but my response to them that gives them their power in my life. I can receive words, or reject them. I can embrace them or ignore them. I can decide to give them access to my soul or not…to let them build my spirit or quench it. How many times have I been given an encouraging word and dismissed it due to my insecurities? How many times have I held on to a word despite circumstances that are contrary to its intent? I love to read words that lift me out of a pit. I choose to avoid the ones that will plunge me into one. Listening, speaking, and writing all involve this dance with words. And most all of the steps in this intricate ballet include a choice on my part. Most.
There are some words that contain power in and of themselves. They just are. No choice required. Cancer is one such word. When it is uttered it hangs in the air like a thick fog that blocks your view of all else. It squeezes your heart, and clouds your mind. The resulting torrent of words disorients and confuses. Being that treatment is painful and more than difficult, the words “cancer-free” are like sweet music to your ears, and freedom for your heart when they roll off the lips of your doctor. But there was still that one word had total power, or that is how it felt. It turned my life upside down and cost me a great deal. Therefore, when I have a routine appointment, like I did today with my mammogram, the possibility that I may hear that word again freezes me cold.
It was a routine procedure that brought it forth last time and that fact is never far from my thoughts despite my best attempts to banish it. The word fear is the bedfellow of cancer. Before these appointments, it tries to paralyze me. It moves in my stomach like writhing snakes constricting their prey. You would think that I would realize that in my almost 50 years, I have had only one appointment where I heard the word cancer. The odds of it happening again are not high, BECAUSE they caught it early due to a routine test. So you would think I would not dread these appointments, but welcome them since they saved my life. Not so. You might also think that the more years post cancer I have behind me the more relaxed I would be with these tests. Not so.
I realize it may seem irrational, or over the top…but my body doesn’t like these tests. The knowledge that there is one word that holds power over me, with or without my choice doesn’t escape the recesses of my mind. My adrenal system is well aware of the possibilities. While it does not appear to me that I can choose my body’s response, I can choose to focus on another word which holds its own power.
The word is life…another no choice word. I am alive. I breathe. My heart beats. It is beyond my control and it is a gift from God. I do not choose if I live, but I do choose how. Engaged. Fully involved. Open hearted. Abundant life. When I have a hard time seeing past the fear, I have those who remind me…life. Today my news was good. Another all clear and I am ever so grateful for the fact that life is a bigger word than fear.
So what word is holding you back? Is it one you have a choice about or is it a no choice word? What word is bigger? Focus on that one. Find some people to remind you of life. Then live it.
In the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the word was God. John 1:1

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