31 Days of Writing
The Power of Speaking the Truth in Love
When I think of friendship, I think of gifts. Because really, isn’t friendship made up of gifts exchanged - time, love, care, sorrows, honor, life?
There are many friends who have come in and out of my life.
Many old friends who I touch base with every year or so…even friends from long ago who are now just Facebook friends. Still the gift of friendship continues, sometimes in lasting memories, impressions, or impact.
One friend who is no longer a day-to-day friend, but still a treasured one who gave me a gift that kept on giving is Elysia. We’re still in touch. In fact, I talked to her for two hours the other day on the heels of her beloved dad’s passing. We were good friends in high school. Though we mostly hung out in different groups, they were groups that intersected often.
Our friendship began through our parents. They had known each other long ago, back in their 20s, their days of college and dating. When our families moved to the same town, they found each other again and socialized a bit. One of the things that brought our families together was a sort of experimental, very early ‘70s kind of family bible study. Initiated by our church, we would meet, several families together in one another’s homes. There we would talk about a godly perspective on the issues of the day, including to some degree the hot-button topics of sex and abortion, among other things. This was my introduction to Elysia.
I remember she was visiting one evening…and we found ourselves upstairs in my room. I was probably just showing her around. We were chatting about teenager stuff, I’m not sure what. But OMG wasn’t an expression yet. Instead, I said “Oh my God” frequently. And when I very naturally used this “expression,” Elysia looked at me a little horrified, eyes round, mouth agape.
“What?” I asked, having no idea why she looked so upset.
“You’re not supposed to use God’s name in vain.”
Well I had done very little bible study, and I wasn’t exactly sure what taking His name in vain meant, but I knew this was one of the 10 Commandments.
On one hand, I thought she was being absolutely ridiculous. I didn’t mean any disrespect. It was just an expression…I didn’t really mean God, I meant god. And besides “everyone says that.” We had a little discussion. And though I wanted to defend myself, I couldn’t. I understood in my gut, she was right.
With my careless words, I was treating God with a lack of the reverence He deserved.
This little scenario took place about 40 years ago. I doubt very much my friend remembers it. But I’m grateful to Elysia for this life-changing moment. She stopped me in my tracks with her admonition. With her gift of a few words and her honesty, she’d shown me the importance, the weight of my words.
I’d like to say I’ve never used the Lord’s name in vain again. But that would not be true. However, I’ve never used the Lord’s name in vain since…without recognizing it was notokay.
This little remembrance speaks to me about the importance of speaking up about something you feel strongly about in love.
Elysia didn’t shame me. She simply stated something she knew to be true beyond the shadow of a doubt. God’s name deserves to be respected, not tossed around carelessly.
Nowadays, with all the abbreviations used on the Internet, there’s OMG. And yes, I do use that from time to time. But I think I’ll stop because what I really mean is “Oh my goodness,” but the expression is “totes” understood as “Oh my God.” And that’s not okay…
John Piper states that taking God’s name in vain, mean this, “…it doesn’t just refer to a certain tone of voice or a certain use of the word. It’s dealing with God and speaking of God in a way that empties him of his significance.”
Joining the lovely and very talented Kimberly Coyle as a guest!