Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Power of Words

"We were told words had power and speaking them aloud gave them a foothold into your life and would keep you in bondage." my daughter writing about the Power of Words.

My daughter has just begun blogging. I have been encouraging her to do this for some time now. It has helped me so much to get my thoughts and feelings down on paper where I can see them. In addition, your reading and commenting have made me feel like I am not as crazy as I might have thought.

I have told her that I want her to keep it personal and not give me (or anyone who actually knows her) the website. I think it is really important for her to be able to say anything that she wants to say without wondering what I or others around her will think or say. But, I added, “If you want me to read a particular post, just email me a copy of what you posted.”

She did today and it blew me away. She was writing about the power that words have and how she has noticed that since she has begun actually voicing her emotions and hurts it has allowed her to gain some space and freedom in her head.

You see in our old church, we were told that words have power over you and your heart. You could, “speak things into being,” or “ruin your destiny” by what you spoke over your life. Some, in the church believed in never affirming a diagnosis of a doctor aloud or else, by your words, you would empower the affliction to become even stronger in your body. Even those that did not go that far still preached about how words could either ruin you and your walk with God or empower you to live the "Victorious Christian Life”. (Why can I not say that last line without hearing Sponge Bob Square Pants "hall monitor" voice in my head?)

Now, I know that there is some nugget of truth in the fact that the spoken word does have an effect in our lives. For instance, I believe that someone who is constantly telling themselves that they are a failure has little hope of being a success. Someone who constantly tells themselves that everyone hates them will end up having very few friends. But somehow, in the middle of those truths, some craziness crept in. We were told not to voice dissension or disagreement with the leaders or else it would poison our lives and lead to rebellion. We were discouraged to voice our doubts about why healing did not always work for fear that it would impact our faith for that healing.

Here is how daughter describes it;

Maybe that's why this tactic was used. To further keep the congregation silent, unsure and ashamed of themselves - a brainwashing of sorts so that no one ever spoke against the pastor (because that was giving a spirit of division power over your life). So we were all kept silent and ashamed of even the thoughts that were whirling around in our minds. We ignored them if we could, and if we ever got so frustrated that we did try to confront the leadership about something, we didn't have anything to say. We had never gotten our thoughts in line enough to make a solid argument. We just looked like emotional fools and their points on thoughts and words giving power to the enemy were only reinforced by our behavior. Wow, what an effective lie.The real power of words is that they hold truth. Not truth as in "this is what is good and right" but truth to what is actually going on. If you are feeling hate or rage or are frustrated, or doubtful, or angry, or regretful, it's ok to say so and not be ashamed or afraid of the fact. I think this will take me a while to learn though. So far every blog I've posted has been accompanied by guilt and fear of saying this stuff aloud. I didn't want to write for so long because I was ashamed or afraid that by doing so, it would only strengthen the doubts and fears and weaknesses that I did have. That I would be giving them power over my life and worst of all, I feared that I would be judged for being so messed up.

But the opposite has happened. With every post I feel more real. I feel more at peace. It is like I'm giving my flaws skin, and space to breathe, and they are healing for the first time in my life instead of compounding and burrowing themselves deeper into my body. I admit to them being messy and ugly when I first let them emerge (my mom can attest to that), but the healing that they undergo after that, leaves them unrecognizably ok.

For those of you who don’t know my daughter or me personally and want to follow along as she writes, please email me at the address at the top of my blog page with your email address and I will forward it on to her and she can give you her blog address. I especially encourage those of you who have had children hurt by the church to follow along or encourage your kids to read too. Beware; it might be very raw and not pretty. But it will be real and hopefully, the words written and spoken will result in healing.


co_heir said...

In the circles I grew up in, if you dared question or criticize the pastor, you were hit with the old "you mustn't criticize the 'man of God'" and the verse about not touching the "Lord's anointed".

Erin said...

That is something I haven't come across anyone writing about yet...that "be careful what you claim aloud" business. I was so enmeshed in that. I literally worried about every word I spoke for awhile. Don't say you actually have the illness the Dr., in months of testing, has determined you have. Good grief.

Also the whole "words give satan doorways into your spirit" business.

And the flip side, the magic spells like the prayer of Jabez...if we only say the same thing every day out loud we will eventually experience it. Were you taught that?

Maybe I haven't done justice to the spirit of your post...because I know you're talking about more than those two things...but that just spoke to me today.

Anyhow, great post...I so relate, thanks to you and your daughter for sharing it.

Barb said...

co-heir, Yep, same circle here too.

Erin, that is what we were taught but somehow I am cautioned not to throw the baby out with the bath water. I'm going to think about this more and post about it in a day or two. My daughter and I have been discussing this a lot today.

Ruth said...

Your daughter has a beautiful way with words....I can see the truth and healing in them. It brought tears to my eyes.

Barb and Erin - I would like to know more of these things you are talking about. You see, I come from a spiritual background where we don't recongnize any of the power of spiritual things. Everything is so mamby pampy and in my mind - meaningless. We just keep talking theology but never try it out.

In the past few years I have began to read and learn about these things you are talking about such as word curses, etc. I do believe there is spiritual power in words in the way that what comes out of the mouth reveals the heart. However, what I am learning from you is how it can all go terribly wrong.

I am interested to know what you think the truth is. Can we open ourselves up to the influence of satan through our actions and words?

Erin - you mentioned possibly posting on this. I think that would be great.

Tyler Dawn said...

Groan, I was taught that too -- I swear, if one more person says, "Don't say Lucky! You're invoking the false god Loki and...."

Sometimes we get a wee bit too analytical, to the point that we can't speak three words without judging ourselves or others. Such things are like everything else -- if you have to force yourself to do/not do something then it's religion. When God tells us to do something, it is generally very easy (at least with stuff like this, as opposed to going to Timbuktu) ;)

Sounds like God gave her the words Himself, so they can't be bad :D

Barb said...

Ruth, I have been researching the whole 'positive confession' thing today and looking at scripture. Will be posting about this in a day or two. It is really hard to sort through for me. It has been such a bedrock of my spiritual experience for the past 20 or so years. I'll let you know.

Tyler, I had actually never heard that one about the god Loki. I knew some people shied away from saying luck - believing that you should have faith instead. Funny.

Anonymous said...

Wow...what your daughter wrote was so beautiful...and I so connected to what she wrote.
For me, God told me to 'break the silence'...cause I was so wound up inside of me, I couldn't talk hardly at all.
Could you tell her, that she is amazing.

Oh, and I was taught, like Erin, about saying the Jabez prayer...which I threw out cause it just felt all wrong...like we can manipulate God with it.
Reminds me of alot of religion..if I do what God wants, then I get what I want..blah, blah, blah.
I really dislike that sort of stuff...

Anonymous said...

2 months ago I went to visit a friend. I was in a really vulnerable state because I knew I was going to be leaving the church I've been attending for over 10 years. There were some good moments there...but I found myself dodging bullets more than anything else; I just couldn't be molded...and was labeled a rebel among other things... I was in a lot of pain and I fell apart. I loved that place and the people in it.
She started defending the church as though I were in serious error and later warned me that; "the things you've spoken might come back upon you"
I had told my story, but 'my story' was not only considered 'cursing leadership' but the very real pain I was coming to grips with was not a concern at all.

It think it's valid to say that it's not helpful to develop a habit of excessive complaining, it does effect us it seems, but too often I've heard people use the ‘positive confession’ teaching to justify keeping all our problems hidden from each other so we can what?...have tidy church experiences. No one gets healed, no one gets stronger, and no one gets fired.

Tyler Dawn said...

Oh that Prayer of Jabez!!! Why don't people get that we now have a daddy who blesses us because He loves us and not a God who bestows blessings upon those servants who are pleasing to Him??

So many of us had really twisted dads and it severely twists the message Jesus was sending about the perfect father who adores His children.

And BTW, who would ask not to be in pain? My greatest times of growth have gone hand in hand with excrutiating emotional pain. I would not want trade that for any level of earthly comfort.

Ruth said...

I laughed at what Cave Dweller said "No one gets healed, no one gets stronger, and no one gets fired."

I don't have experience with an authoritarian church but I get the picture. It seems that all churches can fall into their own brand of oppression and manipulation.

I have observed that we play a game of "The Emporers New Clothes" in church and it takes courage to say (in love) "hey, something doesn't add up here".

My personal measuring stick.....looking at the fruit.

this is a great discussion!!

PJ said...

I was taught never to say "take care," because you were heaping cares upon people's heads. Instead you should say "be watchful." How dumb!

I remember preaching a countermessage to that silly teaching. I told them that "take care" could be a blessing, for others to receive the care of the Lord. (Cast your cares, for he cares for you.)

The church must be "watchful," for the same people who taught me these things, also spoke much evil about me and my family before and after my leaving the CLB. If you really believe your words have power, why didn't they speak words that would have encouraged me to their side, rather than curses if I refused to follow in their blind path? Sorry for the rant. Good stuff, keep writing!

Robert said...

wow I have no personal experience with these aspects of the church but i can see how they would twist your mind and emotions into a pretzel both you and your daughter have such beautiful spirits that come across in your writing. have you ever read hank haanegraafs book *christianity in crisis*?? I think you would find some good stuff regarding the whole positive confession/name it claim it theology. I hope you and your daughter enjoy basking in joy and freedom from controlling systems great posts here!!