I’m one of the baby boomers, the original flower power girl. Headbands, flared white trousers, and the obligatory flower in the hair; Paisley kaftans and brown toe-thonged leather sandals. Life was good.
Teenage years seemed uncomplicated back then; fewer choices to be made – less money, less traffic, less fast food, less instant media coverage and NO smartphones, laptops or flat screen anything!
Was it better? Who knows, what you don’t have you don’t miss!
What I do know is that the secret puff on an illicit cigarette down on the sports oval at lunchtime was a capital crime in my mind. A crime worthy of being hauled before the Headmistress and shamed in front of the whole school at the weekly assembly at the very least. This entailed standing on the stage leading the smirking classmates in a rendition of either ‘Morning has broken’ or ‘How Great Thou Art’ – just to lay on the guilt and disgust of the sin and disrepute brought to the whole school!
Education. Knowledge. Words. Ideas and imagination.
My love of words and translating them into my world began at an early age. I can’t remember who or how I learned to read. I do however remember that once mastered, my world suddenly became this enormous unknown, full of potential, full of ‘perhaps’, and filled with a whole lot of ‘imagines’.
Imagine all the places in the world you could live. Imagine falling in love. Imagine having children. Imagine having enough money to stay in a hotel rather than a caravan by the seaside for holidays. Of course, the imaginations went on and on.
Today, the generations of the ‘Millennials’, ‘Boomerangs’ and ‘GEN X, Z, and Ys’ all have information right there in the palm of their hands. In nearly every room of their homes, work, and school – even at bus stops. They search and they find, in full colour explicitly presented and usually with soundtracks to explain the images.
I’m not saying modern technology isn’t the best! I love it, and use it every day. I’d be as lost as the next person without my iPhone telling me warning me of my next appointment. I often jokingly say ‘my brain wouldn’t function without my phone in hand’. It used to be my watch that I would leave me feeling ‘undressed’ if forgotten; now it’s my phone.
Instead of encyclopaedias and books, our young learn from Google, Instagram and Twitter. I wonder how often their searching minds take on the ‘opinions’ of others rather than the indisputable evidence-based facts of their research?
I am a true believer in nurturing an enquiring mind, and that everyone has a ‘right to an opinion’, but it doesn’t mean every idea ‘is right’.
The written, read and spoken word is powerful. As a believer in Christ, I know that to be true. It is the basis for my faith, my life.‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’
Our influences come from communication in all its forms; they also come from learned behaviour, social interaction and family cultural ethics. Our imagination is the by-product of all these. Once planted, our minds become fertile spaces for opinions and actions.
We have responsibilities around how we express our feelings, thoughts, aspirations and general conversations. God clearly says that he is the WORD and that Jesus came to save our souls through his words. Each time we read and speak the Word, we initiate tools for the mind to grow imaginations and act.
‘For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.’
What a powerful analogy God gives us about words. Like a two-edged sword. To cut up, to release, and set free. To cut down, to separate, and destroy.
Take a moment and think about the way we speak to our children? Our partner? Our family? Our friends?
Are our words releasing the love of God? The understanding, love and charity of Grace? Or are they said to cut down to size, rebuke, and challenge the person or situation?
Make no assumptions about my words here too! I have many times wished I had bitten my tongue and not relished the smug feeling of my words getting ‘one over’ someone else. It was intellectual snobbery; pure vindictive ‘smart mouth’ attitude!
The word is there to separate between our souls and spirit.
Between the flesh and faith.
Between the human character and the heavenly being.
My children will tell you how I have tried to be true to myself around speaking words. At the age of 15, I charged myself before God not to let a ‘swear’ or ‘blasphemous’ word be spoken from my mouth.
It wasn’t until their teenage years that the kids cottoned on, and it became a game for them to try and trip me up!
We had some amusing times, especially when my smart daughter wrote a letter to me and included a couple of these words! Not outrageous words, I should add. In fact, most would probably say ‘Do you even call that a swear word?’!
To demonstrate my deep love and encouragement to her, I read the letter, smoothly without any pauses, replacing the ‘words’ with substitutes, one of them being ‘bottom’!
Indignation doesn’t even begin to describe her response, but I had kept my words true to myself.
There’s never been a more urgent moment than today to ‘imagine’ the power of words which lead to action. So many words of hatred, confusion, distrust and desperation are being let out into the world.
Please, God, let your Word do the talking. Let your Word do the healing. Let your Word ignite our minds and imaginations to action to do good.
Maybe, together, we can pause to consider what we say next.