"In the arms of the ocean, so sweet and so cold
And all this devotion, well, I never knew at all,
And the questions I have, for a sinner released,
In the arms of the ocean deliver me."
-Florence + the Machine, Never Let Me Go
Dreams rarely make sense, so it doesn't matter that the will of the God who loves me could never really be terrifying. I dream it anyways.
In the waking hours, I know His plans for me are good. But at night, things are not always so clear, and I feel a little bit like Jonah in my heart, afraid of the journey ahead. I have so many questions, and not many of them have answers this side of eternity.
Most of my questions can be distilled down into single words: How? When ? Why?
When I consider all the things we will not know until we have already passed through the fire of the future, I want to hide my head under my pillow and just sleep until it can all be sorted out.
That's how I found my daughter last week- in her bed with her head hidden under a pillow.
"What are you doing?" I asked her.
"I can't look at you when you come in. You look scary at first!" she told me.
I remembered right then, the way I used to do the same thing when I called for my own mom in the middle of the night. If I watched the door, my mind always tricked me into thinking someone horrible had come to get me. It was always safe once I heard her voice, though. One word from her let me know it was okay to uncover my head.
Because that's what a word can do. A word can chase the fear within us away.
Words are weighty, shaping reality by carving us all smooth out of the jagged darkness. Thankful, Please. Victory, Beautiful, Grace, Hope, Laughter are all powerful word-tools in my own life. So are Marshmallow, Snowflake, Fluffy, Freedom, Breeze, and Blissful. It's as if they are keys to happiness and simply reading them opens doors inside my soul.
If you hang around my children long enough, you'll find they have a few words that create electricity in their souls. Mostly, any word related to the bathroom is a winner for them. My children aren't too nuanced to appreciate any humor related to toilet actions. (I know, you're so jealous. I am a proud mother, indeed.) But they also delight in the randomness of words like Boingo, Banana, Chickenish, Snurp, Moola, and Freshity Fresh. But the words we speak most often over one another in our house are love and I'm sorry. Those words are cornerstones of life.
Some words repel people from conversations. I have known lots of people who hate the word moist, for example. There are also derogatory words and even regular words that have been weaponized against some of us. Negative words like these can be challenging to carry.
But good or bad, all words share the same ideal destiny. They must be set free, let go, and released into the atmosphere.
The world needs our words like my daughter needs me in the middle of the night. Out our doors are people waiting for someone who understands what it's like to be haunted by words like hatred and prejudice. There are women who long hear that they are enough, little children who need the word brave spoken over them, and grown men who just want to hear someone say well done.
So go. Go let your words meet the great need of the world for connection and belonging. Don't be stingy and keep your good words to yourself, or pretend the scary words don't weigh you down.
Give your words to the world, and I promise, the nightmares will go away. God's will is looming over us, with arms of deliverance and feet that never stop running to us. He has spoken one simple collection of words to drown our fears and deliver us:
It is finished.