I like to write. I like a word, well more like words. I like the spoken ones, the written ones. I like the words that sound the same but have entirely different meanings, homophones. I like their, they’re, and there. I like words like adjunct, antithesis, and abundantly.
I am rarely at a loss for words. One need only to spend a few moments with me to realize I will fill the gaps, the times of silence with words. I seem to have been born with them in my mouth. Most of the world spends its days learning to speak. I have spent mine learning when not to speak. I have learned that when I am silent, someone else will fill the gaps with their words.
My Mama used to say, “Sometimes there are just no words.”
She spent many a nursing year as a Hospice nurse and she’d heard all manner of words spoken in an effort to comfort the bereaved, well-intentioned words spoken in attempt to make the Dearly Departed’s passing more palatable. My mama knew, the reality is, sometimes there is absolutely nothing that can be spoken by humanity to make things better, to make a bad situation better, words that usher in comfort and good intentions.
Sometimes Mama would use that phrase when she had observed something so bizarre or unique that she lacked the vocabulary to adequately describe it. She used it like an old Southern Lady might tilt her head and proclaim “Well I declare dear” as she has been enlightened on some new idea.
It should not have come as a surprise to me when I lost the words. When they just were not there. I’d found myself shaken to my core and try as I may I simply could not make the words I needed to. I found myself repeatedly in stunned silence. I would attempt to pray and there were no words. Sometimes there would be tears, hundreds of them, they fell as readily from my eyes as words so often do from my lips. I would try to speak but it was like I could move my mouth and no audible sound came forth. I would be screaming inside but not even a whisper was there. My written words were just as few, I would attempt to sit and to write to journal what I knew necessary, but I just couldn’t. My fingers would glide over the qwerty keyboard and nothing…no punctuation, no sentence fragments, no run on sentences and comma splices, the repeat grammar offenses I make. I would slam my hands down on the keyboard in frustration and vacate my chair out of disgust.
I tried all the “tricks” to stimulate communication, reading a favorite author or two, having a more intense and intentional prayer time. I tried to talk nonsense and fluff in hopes that deeper and more substantial words would push their way through. I would pray. And suddenly one day I had the realization of something I had not known before, a promise I have known as truth but never truly experienced. As I poured out my heart and grieved I found myself telling God what He already knew.
“I’ve got nothing.”
He knew, he always knows and by way of provision He brought to my remembrance something I knew, have known, for a long time.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 ESV
He reminded me through His word that there were no words, but there didn’t have to be. He was, He is, interceding on my behalf in a language of words known only to Him. In the stunned silence I could trust He would pray over me exactly what I needed. I could trust that healing would come and that soon enough the words would return.