Anyone who knows me *may* describe me as verbose. Ok…they definitely would describe me that way. I literally haven’t stopped talking since I was two. I love words! I love how they’re put together. I love their etymology and their cultural implications. I love learning new ones so I can dominate at Scrabble … You get the point. I go beyond WordsWithFriends. Words are Life. Which is why when I first saw the 10-day word fast in my inbox I laughed. Yeah, that’s definitely not for me, I said, and moved on. OH the irony…
When the fast showed up again in my inbox I paid more attention. It said:
“Fast these words for ten days: complaining, criticism, judgments, sarcasm, and gossip. In these ten days of fasting, God will begin to do a mighty work in the origin of these negative words and thoughts – your heart.”
Ok. I’m listening God. I’ll give it a chance. After all, I added, my husband IS more of the complainer so this will be good for him too. God must’ve been smiling down at me knowing He was about to teach me that all-too important lesson of how “other people’s issues” really are a reflection of our own.
So we started the fast, beginning with “complaining”, and let me tell you, the first two days were NOT easy. This surprised me because I’m a pretty optimistic person and do not classify myself as a complainer. On the contrary, actually! I fully ascribe to the, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” mentality and tend to pull myself up by my “emotional bootstraps” every time affliction strikes (which has been quite often in my life). But friends, God had something important to teach me and I discovered it quickly — the thing I complain about most is what I cherish the most: my kids.
Gah! I hate even typing that, but it’s true and needs to be shared.
It’s also true that I’m in the trenches of motherhood right now (three girls, ages 6, 4, and 17mos, will do that to you), but I don’t want to complain about them. I LOVE them!
What’s worse, is that later on that day I found out that the text messages I send to my husband telling him about how terrible things are going don’t actually make him feel good (imagine that), they actually stress him out! (sad face) Of course my intentions have never been to burden him in that way. I just needed to vent to someone who FULLY understood how difficult our girls can be!
Day 1 ended with me feeling defeated, sad, and ashamed. Thanks Word Fast. It’s a good thing I’m not fasting food. (eats hamburger).
Day 2 started off rough as well, for now I knew I couldn’t complain to my husband, so who was I supposed to complain to?! It wasn’t like my kids were going to stop whining or finding me in the bathroom when I least wanted them to, so now I felt trapped by my feelings of frustration and annoyance. I decided to take the “high road”, of course, and just complain to myself, which obviously made me feel worse and even more like a hamster on its wheel. That’s when God stepped in and set me free:
GIVE ALL OF YOUR BURDENS TO ME, JONNA. I WILL CARRY THEM FOR YOU. AND NEXT TIME YOU WANT TO UNBURDEN YOURSELF, SIMPLY THANK ME FOR ANSWERING YOUR PRAYERS IN ADVANCE.
I sat there motionless, as if all of the gravity had left the room. The only realization I had that the world was still spinning was the goosebumps on my arms.
God had convicted me by doing three things:
- He showed up.
- He showed me He loved me.
- He showed me how to replace complaint with TRUE gratitude.
This was pure brilliance! I had NEVER thanked God in advance before. How had I missed this optimistic perspective?! Thank you God for being bigger than me and for teaching me how to be a better person in real and practical ways!
God’s clarity gave me the shift I needed to refocus my energy on what needed to get done that day: clean up Cheerios (for the fiftieth time), hold my toddler (for the sixtieth time), and teach my children to thank God IN ADVANCE for answering their prayers (for the first time).
I ended Day 2 optimistic and feeling great. But I still wasn’t sure what to do with my very real and raw grievances, because those certainly weren’t going to go away.
That’s when it hit me. It’s okay to voice your concerns. You just have to create space in your life to communicate to God FIRST. Doing so will:
A) lighten your load,
B) allow you to recharge, and
C) change the semantics of the conversation.
So now my husband will hear, “It’s been a rough day,” instead of, “I can’t believe we had three children!! What were we thinking??!?!? The baby won’t let me put her down, our middle child drew all over the chair, and our oldest child still hasn’t put her pants on!” Words matter. Let God lighten your load so you can shine His truth brighter.
I could write a whole bunch more about the power of our words, but I’m going take the road less traveled (surprise!) and stop talking so YOU can meditate. Take the 10-day word fast. Challenge yourself. God WILL show up…because He always does! Fasting gives you the space to allow Him to.
Then when you call, the lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.’Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and [complaining].” Isaiah 58:9