Recently, I’ve somewhat been on a purging binge (note that I love a good oxymoron) and going through the many boxes I have in storage labeled, “Carrie’s Mementos.” I hate to admit that I was on a fast track to be featured on a cable show about people who collect a lot of stuff and I’m pretty sure that my “mementos” were the reason we needed U-Haul’s largest truck the last time we moved.
I’m currently looking for a chapter of “Sentimentals Anonymous” in my area.
So far, I’ve thrown away and condensed about 10 boxes of stuff; mostly college syllabi and graded papers from 20 years ago (my husband has been beyond thrilled to take these with us everywhere we go), but also a baby food jar containing a dirty, melted snowball from a childhood vacation to Yellowstone, my baby teeth (did I think I would reuse them eventually?), every pair of glasses I’ve ever owned and yes, even my braces.
I have nothing to say in defense of this.
I shake my head now at the ridiculousness, yet there are things I have come across that make me smile more today than when I received them.
These are the things I tuck gently and carefully back into the box.
Words. All words. Words that wash over my heart with warm memories. Words that wrap around me like a down blanket. Words that prop me up during an unusually dark season.
A wooden postcard from my long-deceased grandfather, my pastor grandfather whose wit outshone Jerry Seinfeld, whose wit is forever pressed in ink onto a 3×5 piece of wood.
A letter from a BFF during our teen years, sharing her relationship woes and states that she is done with boys. Yet in the next sentence, states that so-and-so is cute and is trying subtly to finagle a way to find out if he likes her.
Letters from family during college years that keep me connected to home, uplift, and encourage me to keep on keeping on.
Cards from friends who remind me of how very much I am loved.
Words. Words that I run my finger across and can feel the imprint of. The pressure of a pen held by someone who holds me in their thoughts.
This week, memories have been awakened by the power of ink and paper, and the first thought that flashes into my mind is the Ann Voskamp quote:
“Only speak words that make souls stronger.”
The second thought is a morsel from Proverbs,
“The tongue can bring death or life;
those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” ~Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)
My soul has been strengthened this week by people who may or may not have any recollection of their words to me. Their “tongue,” visible, rather than audible, has brought me life. They have me weighing the density of my own words. They have me pondering the effects, both beneficial and detrimental, of permanency. Are my words today going to be a healing salve 20 years from now?
My box of “treasures” compels me to take the risk of putting my words in print. I owe it to the One who has left me an entire Book that is the Living Word. I owe it to those who have blessed me after having chosen to do the same.
But I have also been wounded by words. Words that were like a knife being twisted, driven deeper and deeper until my innermost being was flayed and bleeding. Words that floated gently into the trash can; yet were on constant repeat in my mind, because hurtful words are etched far deeper than strengthening ones. Words that took up less space, but were far heavier than all of my boxes of “mementos” combined.
If word-wounding is all you have experienced, I’m so sorry. If you have never been given the opportunity to go through a stack of soul-strengthening words written by those who love you, let me assure you that there is One Who has plenty of love to whisper into your bruised heart.
I encourage you to breathe strength and life into someone this week. Even if words aren’t your “thing,” write them anyway, so that the recipient will have the option of enjoying them for days, even years to come.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” ~Psalm 19:14