I believe in words. I believe they have the power to heal, to foster hope, to cause pain, create fear. I use words to convey my feelings, I use them to empower me and provide emotion. I have used words to inflict a wound and to make a point. I believe in words. I love to read them, to write them, to change them and to fight with them. I love to speak them and to hear them.
I love quotes and the way a small number of words can be arranged to impact a day, a week, a life. I gravitate to words, finding solace and comfort when I need it most. I was texting with a friend the other day and I sent her the following message: I love when words speak to us and create a path for moving forward. She sent it back to me as a quote. “I love when words speak to us and create a path for moving forward” – You I was taken back, in all my years of collecting and loving quotes — it never occurred to me I might have a gem or two of my own to share. Words have been my crutch, my helping hand, my guide on this journey.
Looking at my own quote gave me pause. Did I really say that? How can I use words to create a path for myself to move forward today? Nearly a decade – or perhaps longer – ago I read Eat, Pray, Love for the first time. In it Elizabeth Gilbert reflects on “her word”, what one word describes her. Loving words, I loved the exercise. My mind is always a flurry of activity, always flitting from one topic to another, inside of conversations and inside my own thoughts. I would often roll words around in my own mind, touch them with my thoughts in efforts to find “my word”. Finally, it occurred to me. Passion. I am passionate about my home, my husband, my kids, my life. I am passionate about teaching and learning and writing. I am passionate about my friendships and the love in my life.
And while I find that passion does do a good-one-word-job defining me, it doesn’t help ground or center me. For nearly that same decade I have carried the words Peace and Balance with me in the pocket of my heart. Peace and Balance. Two things I strive for, two things I long for. I have them written on calendars and in my planner, on sticky notes near my desk and sometimes written in chalk on my fridge.
In floated another idea – it also happened to visit me while texting a second friend – another conversation filled with beautiful words, conveying thoughts that wound around my heart and gave me peace. I can not control peace. I can not control balance. They are not part of the path to moving forward, they are the reward for the journey.
I often talk with my boys about power. Our power to control our surrounding, our experience, our lives. In teenage boy terms – you can’t control the outcome of the game. You can be as prepared as your opponent, even more so. You can out play them, you can out work them, you can deserve it more. And you can still lose. What we can control? Our effort to prepare. Our effort in the face of impending failure. Our effort in coming success. We can control our attitude, in times of strife and in times of plenty.
If peace and balance are not in my control – and they aren’t. (I can’t control the balance in my life — I can give it a good run, but in the end shit happens and it’s out of my control. I can’t control my peace — people get sick, bad things happen, lives are disrupted and interrupted with pain and discomfort) What can I control? I can control my effort and attitude, and for me, today, that means grace.
I can control the grace I bestow on my family. I can control the grace I gift to myself. I can control the grace I give to others in the face of death, divorce, loss, trauma and everyday life. I can control the effort I provide toward creating a peaceful and balanced life. I can control the grace that I afford to those I love. Grace.
In loving words, in visiting with them and letting them surround me, I find peace. Sometimes mere slivers of it, but still there is peace. And it has been grace that has lead me to the words I needed. I grant myself grace, in allowing my thoughts to wonder and disappear when needed. I give myself the gift of grace when I harvest the words in those thoughts to help guide me. Grace as kindness, grace as friendship, grace as love, grace as Godly, grace as passion, grace as peace.
Grace may not always be the word I need, but today, today it gave me strength and helped me find my power — it may not be a word for you to rest your soul on, I don’t know. Words are love, words are peace, words are garce. Find your word. Find A word. Find the words. Find your grace.