The Power of Words

Brett is looking sharp in khakis and a button down shirt, his tie bearing Floridian brightness.  My brother, Charles, and his wife, Jil, are also in country club attire.  I have on a black dress – a safe choice.  I’m wearing that pearl necklace Mom gave me.  Nice touch.

We are aggressively sipping white wine at the kitchen table, waiting for Peggy and Champe to emerge from their bedroom.  A dreaded cocktail party awaits and wine is necessary.

Mom steps out in a pale blue Armani blazer over a sparkling dress –  now six feet tall in cocktail heels.  She’s poised to work a room with gayety and grace.

The four of us are hoping to find a corner.

Champe would also be seeking a corner. My dad was known to run – literally run – from our parked car to the front door of a party while exclaiming, “The quicker we get inside, the quicker we can leave!”


“You all look wonderful,” Mom gushes.

“Barclay, I love your dress.  What’s that on your neck?”

Ah, she’s noticed the pearls.  “Remember, mom, you gave these to me!”

“Not the necklace… what is that?”

She senses the need to clarify.

“You have a hole in your neck.”

“A what?”

I glance at the five other necks.  Do they have this malformation?


Jil told me later that having a neck hole meant you were thin.  Sweet of her.

But three decades later, I notice Neck Holes.  The words stuck.

That’s what words are fond of doing.


In their article “The Power of Spoken Words“, the Huffington Post says, “Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” HP quotes Gary Chapman (5 Love Languages author) describing words as bullets or seeds.

Unfortunately bullet words are hard to extract from your mind, while the seed types fall prey to weeds and shallow soil.

The other day a friend told me she had asked her sister to recall memories of their deceased mother – images that demonstrated tenderness, attachment, devotion to her daughters.  My friend knew there had indeed been positive moments along the way; yet memories with a negative tint had overtaken them.  Such is the power of bullets over seeds.

I appreciate my friend’s intentionality to push back on bullet- words.  That’s what moves you to a place of peace and forgiveness.


Peggy was an enigmatic mother — but I never doubted her love and fierce devotion.  For her 80th birthday my gift was a book entitled “Because of you…”   Each page described a way she had impacted the lives of others.  Peggy modeled a love for God, a dedication to sharing her resources, a bold faith that led dying people into the kingdom, a joy of life, a toughness that kept her going strong for 95 years.

(And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t sneak in a page, “Because of you…not a single neck hole escapes my notice”!!)


The God of the Bible speaks seed words –  of love, value, forgiveness.  No need for push back.

The theme of the Bible can be summed up in the Sunday School refrain, “Jesus loves me, this I know.  For the Bible tells me so.”

And that is better than white wine.

God is crazy about us – neck holes and all!


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