I must admit that even I – lover of winter that I am – was surprised and somewhat dismayed when I looked out the window this morning to see the ground once again covered in snow. Without even thinking, as I drew the curtains open, I know that I audibly said,“Really, God? Is this some kind of joke?” I grumbled my way through breakfast. I grumbled my way through getting dressed, having to re-think my wardrobe for the day. I grumbled as I dug the boots out of the back of the closet.
And then I stopped. From somewhere deep within the recesses of my memory came these words: “as you speak, so also you will think and therefore act.” Many long years ago when I was a college student working at a summer bible camp, our camp director repeatedly uttered those words. He first spoke them to us in staff training as we were thinking through what it would be like to relate to a wide variety of children throughout the summer, each with their own personality, story, blessings, and challenges.
He spoke those words to remind us that speaking leads to thinking, and thinking leads to acting. If we spoke negatively about a child in our care, we would most likely think negatively about that same child, and if we thought negatively, we would act negatively. As you speak, so also you will think and therefore act. On the other hand, positive words lead to positive thoughts that in turn lead to positive actions.
Over the years, I have come to more fully appreciate the truth of those words and the intimate connection between our words and our deeds. Of course there is a time and a place to express our frustrations, our difficulties, and our disappointments. But there is also a time and place to step back and ask ourselves, how does my speaking impact my thinking and my acting? What is the connection between my words and my deeds?
Abraham Joshua Heschel, in his reflections upon the Holocaust, often said “words create worlds.” He reminded people that the Holocaust did not begin with the building of crematoria, nor did Hitler come to power with tanks and guns. It began with words. As we speak, so also we will think, and therefore act.
What will you speak today? How are your speaking, your thinking and your acting connected? What kind of world will your words create?
So it snowed. But it is late March. The days are getting longer. The sun feels warmer than it did in January. The seasons are changing. This is the day that the Lord has made. I think I will let those be my words for today.
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.