Use Your Words

I woke up this morning and realized I had nothing to say. The only words I had were for God. Thank you for this, please forgive me for that. I sat with Him and told Him about the help I needed today and asked Him to walk with my friends. And then I was done. Totally out of words.

I did what I always do when I’m out of words. I stalled. Instead of opening a fresh document and at least trying to think of something hope-filled or encouraging to say, I opened up my email.

And that’s when I realized God has a very funny sense of humor.

Beckoning from my inbox was an email from my sister. She had forwarded an article from the New York Times about a Stanford program that encourages people to write letters to their loved ones. It’s called the Stanford Friends and Family Letter Project.

You can read the entire article here, but this is the heart behind the idea, according to VJ Periyakoil, M.D. “With guidance from seriously ill patients and families from various racial and ethnic groups, we developed a free template for a letter that can help people complete seven life review tasks: acknowledging important people in our lives; remembering treasured moments; apologizing to those we may have hurt; forgiving those who have hurt us; and saying “thank you,” “I love you” and “goodbye.”

I thought it was ironic that on the day I ran out of words, I would read about a program that encourages people to take the time to say what needs to be said.

It made me wonder if my people know why I say the things I do or whether life speeds by so quickly that it seems like mom is just barking out orders or making crazy suggestions.

I often ask my daughter on our drive to the middle school what she’s looking forward to that day. “What exciting thing will happen today, Jo?” Usually she can come up with an interesting project she’s working on or something fun she’s planning with her friends. Today, not so much. I guess she ran out of words too. “Look for it, Jo. Like a treasure hunt. God wants to spoil you. Hunt down all the ways He’s showering you with kindness today. I promise you’ll find them.”

Does she know that when unkindness meets her in the middle school hallway, God will also be there, waiting for her to notice Him, planting gems of kindness along her path? It’s a trick I’ve used to ward off depression for years. Look for the kindness. It’s a tactic I want to teach her for dealing with the difficulties of life, but do I slow down enough to fully lay out the lesson plan?

I might not have words today, but I have little ones who will someday cherish the writings of their mother. So like my own little Stanford project, I will leave a piece of my heart on the paper before my words are gone for good.

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