A Mary Moment Monday post

I have a fascination with words. I can’t help it: not only am I an avid reader and a prolific writer, I’m a word nerd.

We can say, especially on the playground of childhood, that “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” but we’re wrong.

Words do hurt.

Pictures may take a thousand and actions may speak louder, but words say something.

Sometimes, it’s not what we mean.

I’ve been guilty recently of taking words the wrong way. I’ve been hurt by others misinterpreting my words.

It seems inevitable that words will bring pain.

Oh, they bring joy and happiness, too. Who doesn’t cherish the sweet murmurings of a child or a lover’s whisper? Who hasn’t been humbled by unexpected praise and unsolicited encouragement?

How tempting, though, to hold those hurtful words close, to replay them, to delve into them and their many possible meanings. By the time I’m done with them, sometimes–even when they were unintentionally hurtful–I have a gaping wound inside.

I’ve come to appreciate the Catholic practice of regular confession and discernment in my battle against and with words. When I’m in frequent communication with God–which involves a lot of slowing down, silencing myself, and listening–I find that I’m able to step back from the words and their allure.

In that space, I can sometimes cooperate with the clarity and the grace God sends my way. With that divine help, I can forgive myself, over and over.

Because until I’ve forgiven myself, the forgiving I do of others doesn’t seem to “stick” in my soul.

When I repeat others’ words, am I harboring resentment, growing bitterness, fostering unforgiveness? Am I thinking and rethinking about old hurts and words that have no real meaning now, though they did then? How can I give these words, important as they are to me now, to God, to let him bear the burden?

As with so many other struggles in my life, I turn to Mary. In Scripture, I see, more than anything else, that she was silent. She pondered. She waited. She held on to God’s promises and believed them with her entire being.

When she appears to us now, whether at Guadalupe or Lourdes or in any number of other sites, she doesn’t preach. She usually says a few things, not long paragraphs of theology.

She speaks simply, sincerely. I could learn a lot from Mary in my use of words, whether professionally or personally. I would do well to turn to her example and let it lead me always closer to my true center, her Son.

image credit: MorgueFile