Tonight on the street we passed a church marquee that said, “On Labor Day, we pray for those seeking jobs.”
Now, we were wizzing by on the motorcycle, but we weren’t going so quickly that I couldn’t read and process that comment. I know that Labor Day was not initially formed so that we could have a “last official weekend of summer,” a handy deadline for open beaches and white pants and the general free feeling of days when the sun shines longer. But honestly, I am a bit fuzzy on the origins of the holiday (reading up here). That said, I enjoyed the idea of praying for unemployed, felt bad that it never occurred to me, and made plans to act on that.
Just minutes before, I’d made a comment to Rod about a church sign down the street. The sign there is one that literally changed my life 2 years ago when it advertised the moms’ group to which I belong. I have written about how that group has made me a better mom, a better wife, a better Christian. I often talk about how it brought me to women who have become dear friends, like sisters, to me, and how their children and mine love each other.
It’s a powerful sign.
Which is what I said to Rod as we passed it. That sign is in front of a big church, on a busy street, in a fairly prominent area. It had the power to draw me and several others I know inside its doors for a life-changing, God-honoring experience. But sadly, at least today, it bears a fairly unintelligible “witticism” that will certainly cause people to ponder it for a moment but really has nothing to do with honoring God or letting people know what they might find inside the church.
Too bad. It’s a powerful sign.
I am a writer. The power of words is never lost on me. I do drafts of everything I write, even Facebook statuses sometimes. I have, on several occasions, had to go back and delete something I posted in the name of social networking fun or pointedness, because I know how much words can distract OR destroy people.
Earlier in the summer, on the first morning of our blood/sweat/tears event, I posted a very simple line from an old hymn, one affirming what I wanted that day to hold more than anything. (The line, in fact, was “All to Jesus, I surrender”). Moments later, a “friend” posted her own status, clearly mocking mine, as she had done in the past. Words have the power to distract.
Later that same week, after some, ohshallwesay, drama of the southern gospel nature had taken place, I became a little obsessed with the negative words being said by some people I’d believed were our friends. It didn’t matter that what they were saying wasn’t true or fair or even that not a lot of people were listening. What mattered to me, at the time, was that those words hurt to the point of depression, discouragement, and doubt… because words have the power to destroy.
Thankfully, they also have the power to lift, to enlighten, and even to change someone’s eternity.
~~~> Enter Leo.
Leonardo is an interpreter in Bogota, Colombia for Compassion International. We met him on the first day of our recent trip. I was sitting near the front of our bus with Anhi, and he was helping me talk to her. In the midst of that discussion, I learned about how words changed Leo’s life. It went something like this:
I was translating letters for Compassion while I was in college. It was my dream to study in the United States, but I had gotten my girlfriend pregnant, and that wasn’t going to happen. I remember that in translating so many letters, I kept reading about a future and a hope. I wanted to know the Jesus those sponsors talked about. And now I do.
Leo’s smile when he talks about this story will light a city block, as it will when he speaks of his now-wife, his three year old son, and their baby girl on the way.
There is power in words… to change a life!
Among the many mind-blowing, heart-growing experiences we had in Colombia, many which encouraged us in writing as often and as intentionally to our sponsored kids as possible, Leo’s story is one I share in the first minute of talking about our journey. The people writing those letters had no idea who would be reading them, and if they were like me pre-Colombia, they’d probably never thought about the life, frame of mind, or needs of the interpreter. But I always will now…
There is power in words, a power that makes me check mine more carefully (most of the time, Italian temper being taken into account) in light of all the instances recorded here.
There is power in words.
How will you use yours?
> To learn more about Compassion International.
> Write to your sponsored child online.
> If you live in Chicagoland or NW Indiana> more information about Moms & More.