Most of the world struggles to find language for traumatic experiences. Betrayal, aloneness, complexity, and crisis force us to process. The awkwardness of finding ourselves around others who are navigating trauma can be telling in how we react or interact. If we aren’t careful with what we say and how we say it, we can make an already terrible circumstance even worse. To sympathize originally means to suffer with. I can recall several conversations with others when my sister died two years ago. “Chad, you can never question God’s plans, he knows all, and knows what’s best”. I can neither agree or disagree with the comment on it’s own. However, we can very much question God in almost any scenario if we are honest. I can personally believe that God does indeed know all. One can move past the content of this comment, but it does reveal the fact that we struggle to find how and what to say during a traumatic environment.
Sometimes the best thing we can do in these type of spaces is to say nothing at all. Our presence may be the only communication we need to offer. We have a difficult time with shutting up. We love to hear ourselves talk, even if it is nonsense. I would also dare say that by attempting to find words to say, we belittle some subject matter. Sometimes there simply aren’t words for beautiful moments or even traumatic moments. So, anything that is expressed just fails to convey the scope of our emotions and thoughts no matter our intentions. Have you ever had a friend that you found yourself spending time with where neither of you felt the pressure to constantly talk? Those are far and few between, but when found it says a lot of the depth and understanding in that relationship. There is something beautiful about having the right words to say, but there can be something even more beautiful when we allow the space for silence. It can be a peaceful expression on it’s own.
They can be like the sun, words. They can do for the heart what light can for a field. -St John of the Cross
I believe that we can see the mystery and majesty of God through our broken moments. We tend to not do ourselves any favors by cheapening moments of deep meaning by saying the wrong thing, not saying the right thing, or saying anything at all. Everything speaks. This applies to normal everyday conversations, worship gatherings, communication strategies (print, branding, etc). This may heighten our awareness of the weight found in our words.
If everything does indeed speak, our verbiage matters.
I am a believer in the power of words. Be it a poetic approach or simply an informative angle. Within my world, words can inspire, confuse, or even distract.
In addition to describing a subject matter, our language also communicates what we’re not saying. Think about it. By conveying a description, we also send a message of what we are not actually expressing. The language that a group of people use often describes that tribe of people. It can express how they dress, the kind of music they listen to, and what they believe.
I will admit that I get hung up on words. You might be thinking “dude, get over it, you know what I mean”. I would say, maybe more thought, patience, and self control would allow for a deepening of the words we choose to use.