Words are powerful. Like Mr. Bacon (not of the movie or pork variety) said, they are monuments that outlast the powerhouses of this world.
I had an online exchange with a writer I greatly admire. We were discussing the fear we have when release date for a novel looms near.
Hear me, friends. It. Is. Terrifying.
For many reasons. But one in particular.
Our words are linked to who we are. What we feel and think and remember. All that we’ve experienced and loved and hated. Words reveal us. Even when those words are used in fiction.
Recently, I’ve been convicted by the thought of words as weapon or balm. Destructive or edifying.
Hundreds of girls in Nigeria were kidnapped because they dared to go to school. They knew the risk. That for their learning, they could be punished. Yet, they got up every day, went to school, and allowed the monuments of words to rise within themselves. They were taken.
And nobody did a thing. Not their government or the police or the United Nations.
That is, nobody did a thing until the mothers of those girls started to use powerful weapons. They paraded, united, made a whole lot of noise with their weapons.
Their weapons? You’ve got it.
They took their words, insisting that their government take notice, that their government DO SOMETHING, they took those words to the internet.
The world sat up. Read the words. Allowed those words to move their hearts. Let them speak into their empathy and, with tears in their eyes, used words to further the knowledge of these girls.
Because of the words, world leaders woke up. They joined the words. Sent the forces, the money, the know-how to search.
#BringBackOurGirls became a monument large enough for the world to see.
The words we read about these beautiful girls narrowed the space between us and them. We listened and read and ached because, in Christ there is no Greek nor Jew nor American nor Nigerian. And these girls are our sisters, made in the same image by the same Father.
I can’t and shouldn’t go to Nigeria today. I can’t and shouldn’t forge through the forests of West Africa. But I can and should and must use my words.
I can and should and must carry on the message of the mothers.
I am a writer. Words are my vocation. They are my calling. Often, I feel selfish for my time spent at my computer, tapping stories onto the screen. The thought that I’m not providing much cash for my family makes me wonder if this time is well spent. Looking at the volumes of stories and sentences and paragraphs that already exist, I think that, perhaps, there’s plenty enough without my words.
Those are the days I forget that every word I pen or type is a monument. Not to myself. Not to my pride or ego or wealth or ability. I forget the power that words carry. The weight.
The heft of a monument that marks life. An Ebenezer, if you will.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Israelites (or God’s Chosen People) had a practice of collecting stones to build monuments after major battles or victories. They did so to remind themselves of God’s goodness, His salvation, His provision.
My words are stones that I stack, one on top of another, to build a monument to God.
So that I remember. So that my readers will, too.
So that, when I think and pray for the girls in Nigeria, I can be reminded that there is still hope. That, with the bold words of power and passion, a world can come to care.
That sometimes, God can use our words to bring back His girls.