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Words that can’t be retracted

elderly woman speaking young woman grandmother

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Jennifer Hubbard - published on 05/24/23

My grandmother’s inhale was so deep and intense I was certain she was about to convict, but what she spoke was soft and tender truth ...

She waited before coming out from her room and sitting quietly beside me. There was no denying she heard the toxicity of the words slung during the heat of the battle that had just come to a door-slamming end. She sat in what seemed an eternity of silence before turning to me and looking gently into my eyes. My grandmother’s inhale was so deep and intense I was certain she was about to convict, but what she spoke was soft and tender truth, “Jennifer, words can never be taken back. Choose them carefully.” 

I offered her a timid, “I understand.” And I did, just not to the extent I do now. 

I know words matter. I am a writer. I pour over words and consider which is the very best to describe what I am intending to convey. Fact is, we all are writers, whether we want to be or not. Words, spoken and written, craft our own and contribute to other’s stories. Poured into letters of love and gratitude, a doodled heart on scribbled lunchbox notes, or haphazardly slung words of assault and judgement — the words we’ve chosen cannot be redacted from a heart. Words will either build or they will burn; they have no other options. 

In my quest for meaning and understanding, I sit and search His Word. I lean in, reading for what I now know will be the answers to my heart’s questions and cries. At first, I would read with hesitation, until I saw the intention each word holds. The Word assures, convicts, and guides my hope; connecting what is now’s struggle to the promises I will claim. My tears, they are collected and counted. His plans, they are for my good. And the trials.  Oh, the trials, the trials are not for nothing, but for His glory. Words and passages underlined, circled, and starred, and margin dates to mark the moment and remind, again and again, when the doubts begin to rise: when and what my seeking heart found.  

His Word is where the vernacular of my heart has been rewritten; His is the gentle gaze that was that of my grandmother, replacing words that wound with His truth, His love, and His delight. His Word is where the words I used as spears are forgiven and I am redeemed. His Word is the very reason I choose my words with intention. 

You see my grandmother, she understood in ways I am only beginning to understand: Words, His Word, cannot be retracted because His Word, it is Love. 


This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

The Human Being Fully Alive
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