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Words Matter

Carol Leeth
By Carol Leeth

It started in a moment, a word thrown at me over and over again until I took notice. I wasn’t having a great day, in fact, I was angry and done with all the things not going my way. The cashier’s name was Joy, I saw her name tag as I waited a ridiculous amount of time for the stock boys to find my purchase in the back room of the store. I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself in the midst of the holiday season.

Half an hour later I was standing in another store, looking at Christmas decorations and there in front of me was a large red wooden word “JOY”. Ok, I get it. I don’t have joy right now. I don’t even know what it really means. I picked up the wooden word and decided to take it home.

This was 6 years ago and that word still sits in my living room to remind me of that time when it’s meaning was beyond what I thought I knew and when I felt it was completely out of reach.

It’s never been about finding a word for the beginning of a new calendar year. They seem to come with each new seasons of life, sometimes like a punch in the gut, sometimes as a gentle hug reminding me to shift my focus. In 2005, the word “Hope” sprang out like a hand pulling me out of the depths as I walked with my husband through cancer.

It was simply a word, but seeing it everywhere gave me something bigger to focus my thoughts on.

Each word has been exactly what I needed to keep myself afloat during hard times or grounded in great times. But it is never just a word I choose, it is a word that comes to me. A word that screams at me, that is given like a gift from something bigger. God knows what I need rather than what I want and is ready to show me in a way I can understand.

2019 was my year of healing. Healing my gut, healing from grief, healing from the loss of a life full of toxic relationships. Through loss and grief, I found healing and love. The death of my dad felt like the closing of several hard and hurtful years. It opened up the opportunity to find encouragement and a confidence that had been buried deep inside. Yet, with my personal focus on healing, the word continually handed to me was ‘bitterness’. It wasn’t a pleasant word. Unlike Joy, this word is not displayed in my house. For a while I kept it hidden, even from myself. I was embarrassed by it. Why would this word be what I needed to focus on. It was so negative, a gut wrenching thought to truly focus on my bitterness. But when I finally gave in, when I finally began sifting through this harsh word, I found that it was actually holding me back from the complete healing I was working toward.

I was given the book ‘Unclaimed Baggage’ as I began working toward healing my past and the book ‘Boundaries’ to help me build new relationships for my future. These books, along with counseling, new friends, a new church home, and a renewed relationship with my husband have helped walk me through healing my bitterness.

So now, as 2019 comes to a close and I continue to heal, my focus is changing. Bitterness has released me and I can look to my past and know that without it I would not be who I am today. And without my words, I wouldn’t have made it through the struggles in the same way.

As I write this, on the day my father died one year ago, I am thankful for his life, for the wonderful things he taught me and gave me. The legacy he was in my life. I can take in the not so great parts and know that they built me into who I am today. Each toxic person I have removed from my circle in the last 4 years has been a stepping stone for me to reach the life God has for me. The words He has shown me brought true hope, joy, and a deeper consciousness of what life can become if I let bitterness hold on.

A new season has begun and I know a new word will come, like an imaginary friend, when I need it the most. For now, I will focus on the Lord and who He wants me to be.

 

Carol Leeth
Carol loves hiking, writing, and creating memories with her family. She dreams of living in the mountains while, in reality, spends her days in the Oklahoma plains. She spends her time in the throws of life, homeschooling her three boys...Read More
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