Years ago at a family party, when my youngest child was an infant, I was shocked to discover that as I tried to talk with people, the words left my brain. It wasn’t that I was nervous. I was literally blank. While I bounced the baby on my hip, I found that my words – specifically the subjects of my sentences – wouldn’t come out. I was mortified, which only made it worse. Feigning an urgent diaper change, I excused myself and hid in the back rooms for the rest of the party.
Thus my journey into re-gaining and strengthening my language began.
“What’s the word I’m looking for?” We all ask the question.
But why? Why is finding the right word so important to us?
I was looking for words. But in my research what I found was meaning, culture, value, narratives, stories, the power of names, and the origin of language in God himself, who spoke the universe into existence.
When we understand the mechanisms of language, when we explore the life that language takes on in our personal and societal development, we can understand:
- How God created Adam as the original namer-of-things, and our subsequent ability to create or destroy through the names we give our world.
- The job of language to build structures of meaning, and thus, to build cultures through shared narratives and systems.
- The importance of speaking specifically and listening intentionally to create clear communication with others.
- The power of our specific vocabulary to shape our individual characters, setting our own “houses” in order, creating order out of chaos in our own self-talk and world-view.
- The volatile nature of our character, and the tension between life and death in our tongue – between building or destroying our own narratives.
- The paramount importance of accepting Jesus’s gift of salvation with our words, actions, and faith in unity.