Yesterday I spent some time talking with the Pursuit students about labels.
I’ve written about this before on my blog – it’s something that I think about often.
We use so many words in a day. We’re bombarded by so many words in a day. We speak, we think, we listen, we read – books, magazines, emails, texts, endless amounts of stuff on the internet. (Ha, as I write these words, both of my girls are talking, and we’ve got music playing. Words are coming at me from all directions!)
I feel that with all the communication going on around us, it is very easy to become desensitized to the power of words. But as I prepared for my class yesterday, I was struck once again by how important words are in the Bible.
If you flip your Bible open to the very beginning, it says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” If you keep reading down to verse three, this is what we find:
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
How amazing is it that the God who loves us, and hears every single word we say, and cares deeply about every aspect of our lives, has the power to simply speak, and create something from nothing.
Now I know there are many people who do not believe that Genesis is a literal account of Creation. To me, it doesn’t make much difference in this case – I believe that God has the power to do this, and His words carry so much power that Genesis chapter one goes on to say “And God said…” nine times.
I would say that’s fairly significant.
And God said, and God said, and God said…
I also find it really interesting that every time He spoke something into being, He called it good, and then He named it. If words carry significance in the Bible, then names even more so.
If you’ve ever named a child, you know what we’re talking about here. There are so many things to think about – this is for life, and it becomes such an important part of someone’s identity. And every time you stick your head out the door to call your child in for lunch, you are speaking that name over them, again and again and again.
To some people, a name might not mean anything beyond just being a name. I believe that my girls’ names are a chance for me to bless them and speak over them something important that was chosen just for them.
“Anika Elisabeth Joy” means beautiful and woman of God (and the “Joy” is kinda self-explanatory!) “Kaylia Isabelle Hope” means purity and the fulfillment of God’s promise.
That’s a big deal to me. (That’s why if I had a son, I would not name him “Caleb”, because it means dog. For some people, that might be a great meaning, but I really, really don’t like dogs.)
Anyway. Names are a big deal. So God named everything after proclaiming it “good”. He named a lot of things in the beginning.
Until chapter 2. And then He stops naming things. The Bible says,
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. (Genesis 2: 19-20, emphasis mine)
After all of the speaking and naming God had done, He stepped back, and handed off the responsibility to Adam. And whatever Adam called each animal, that was its name.
God has given that responsibility to each of us as well, every single day. He gives us the gift of communication, which does so much good, but it can also do much harm.
We name things all the time, often without realizing it. More importantly, we name other people, and we name ourselves.
Have you ever said things like,
“I’m a perfectionist.”
“I’m not a patient person.”
Or thought things about frustrating people? “He’s such a jerk.” Or the one we’re personally hearing all the time right now: “Don’t worry about it – she’s just going through the Terrible Twos.”
Really? This entire year of Kaylia’s life will be labelled as terrible? I don’t think so. I think it’s pretty enchanting. I absolutely love seeing her toddling around, discovering the world and learning how to use words to communicate. And yes, there are some tantrums, and she screams and tries to figure out how to communicate that she’s angry beyond reason about having to wear runners outside instead of slippers.
And sometimes, my patience is struggling to rise to the occasion, but I absolutely refuse to use the term “Terrible Twos.” Her twos are wonderful and sometimes hard, but why would I choose to label them in a negative way, over and over and over again?
Think it doesn’t make a difference? You should try it out – there is a big difference in saying, “I’m such an impatient person!!” or saying, “I’m struggling with having enough patience right now.”
It becomes one situation, instead of a label that you stamp on your whole life, and keep using repeatedly.
Because guess what? The Holy Spirit is in each and every believer, and that means that we all have the Fruit of the Spirit. There are some pretty great things included in that Fruit. Like patience.
If I’m going to name myself, I would like it to go like this: “I am loving. I am joyful. I am peaceful….” Through the power of the Spirit, those words are absolutely true. Try saying them out loud sometime. It does very good things. And pray like crazy that God would make it so, in each and every moment.
If we’re going to name something, make it good. God declared over and over again that what He made was good.
Let’s agree with Him!