Words come in a permanent form. No eraser. I hand my words out on a daily basis. Along with my words I have, several times, handed out my own God-made eraser, apologies and repentance.
Forgiveness helps. A remorseful heart is powerful. But there is just something about words that find the layers of your heart you never knew existed and they grow there. And then one day, these words you had forgotten, have dominion over you.
I was told lots of words growing up. Words that shaped me. Words that held me back for a while.
I was told I have lots of joy. Sometimes I was told I had too much joy. I was told I am short…I was told that a lot. But there are several moments that are strikingly etched into my memory. They were only moments, seconds even. One word was predominant and it continued to be thrown in my direction. I tried my best to dodge and dismiss this word.
Faith. I believe the exact reoccurring statement was, “Brianne, you have the gift of faith.”
I’ve let several people into my heart and I’ve given free access into my mind. I know that this can be dangerous and I have reaped the consequences of being so open. But I just have never been a completely closed off person. I love people. I love to know people. I want people to know me too. The real me. So I am usually in a constant state of, “What do you want to know about me?”
When you let a lot of people see you, you get used to hearing a lot of things about yourself and believing them.
My mirror is dusty, it’s crystal reflective glass is tainted by the rust of this world, who I think I am, the sins I know I’ve committed. I know the truth, but to be honest, I rarely see white snow. My friends and family help knock my own mirror, they shake it up, and as some of the dust falls away, I begin to see this very pure and beautiful reflection. It looks a lot like Jesus.
These same people keep this word, faith, marching in my direction.
Let me be honest, I didn’t like it at all.
Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International (shout out to the ministry I labor at!), recently released his new book Just a Minute. In his book he challenges the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It’s just not true and he expounds on this.
In his book are vibrant collections of stories from people whose lives have been changed in literally just a minute, because of something said to them when they were a child. Some have been changed for the better; others have been discouraged for what seems lifetime.
When I was thinking of my very own “just a minute” moment, the word faith, and all those who spoke it to me, was the first thing that came to mind.
When I was in youth group years ago, my pastor came up to me one day and said, “Brianne, do you know you have the gift of faith?” And that was it. He walked off after that. I was utterly offended.
Of course, there was something deeper to my disgust of being known as a girl with faith. I profoundly desired to be known for something of “greater” value. Most people in my youth group were beyond talented. Incredible public speakers. Musicians. Beautiful. Athletic. Brilliant. And here I was, with just faith.
Exactly one week later my bible study leader had us girls take a Spiritual Gifts test. Mine number one gift, faith. Again, I was kind of dismayed.
Several years later I am in an Australian Rainforest with Youth with a Mission. Our speaker for the past week was a powerful and eccentric speaker. After 5 days of teaching we came to the last session where we would take communion and spend time in praise and worship. The speaker said that he would like to come around and pray over the people he had gotten to know over the past week. He made it clear that if he did not get to know us, he would have someone else come pray over us. I had not even sat down with him once. I am pretty sure he did not even know my name.
The session began. My group leader came and prayed over me. She left and I continued in prayer. All of a sudden I felt someone standing in front of me and he grabbed me by the shoulders, I opened my eyes and there he was, our speaker, looking me square in the eyes and saying over and over again, “You have an incredible gift of faith.”
Now, at this point, I was still annoyed when people said that. Can’t a girl get a break? Isn’t there something else captivating about me besides this invisible faith that I do not even understand? But part of me was intrigued. God was pursuing me to acknowledge the gift He had given.
This speaker continued to say that though we had not spoken the whole week he saw light follow me wherever I went. He knew it was my faith. Then he prayed for me and the prayer shocked me. He did not thank God for my faith or ask my faith to increase. He asked God that I would accept my gift of faith and walk forward in confidence with it. He prayed that I would claim my faith and stop pushing it off.
A few years later I started working at Compassion International. My boss had me take the StregnthsFinder test, a secular test that helps define your strengths. It is incredible. I highly recommend it.
I wasn’t sure what my results would be, communicator? Organizer? Developing people? Ideation? Strategizing? I could not wait.
The results came back with my top 5, number one being the strongest. My number one was faith. It found me out even in a secular, business book.
I am indelibly grateful that God gave me this gift even though I rejected it. He pursued me and opened my eyes until I did accept it.
His words are magnificent. They are higher, more powerful and more substantial than any word ever spoken by a human being.
His words are living.
What words were spoken to you in just a moment that changed you forever?