“Cody, we’ve talked about this. You need to use your words to solve arguments, not your fists,” Abigail explains once again to Cody after he comes to blows with a classmate over the news that the railroad will not be building a depot in Hope Valley. As a young boy, Cody is still learning that words carry significant power, and that just a few well-placed ones can turn the tide of even the most reticent heart.
While an obvious theme for this episode of When Calls the Heart is “the importance of keeping promises,” what spoke to me even more was the undercurrent of using our words to influence others.
At the outset of the show, the townspeople’s words of gossip in Yost’s Mercantile caused Abigail to doubt her abilities as mayor. Rosemary’s words of praise convinced Wilma to purchase a dress she couldn’t afford. Words of criticism from Julie cause Laura to move beyond her comfort zone in her artwork. Most powerful of all, Cody’s words at the end of the episode not only bring tears to the eyes of half the townspeople, they convince the railroad’s chief counsel, Mr. Weston, to persuade the railroad to honor its contract. And a few typewritten words in a newspaper headline cause Elizabeth’s world to crumble.
What can we do in those times when other’s words attack us or when our own thoughts wreak chaos on our minds? What about those intricately placed words spoken by our common Enemy that needle our very souls: You’re not enough. It won’t be okay. The worst could happen. You are too imperfect. When all we want to do is clench our fists and physically pummel this intangible enemy, we feel powerless, but we are not.
One of my very favorite songs by musician Ellie Holcomb titled “Fighting Words” reminds me exactly who I am and whose I am, so that I can fight the good fight – no matter the words flung my way: “Fight the lies with the truth/Keep my eyes fixed on You/I will sing the truth into the dark/I will use my fighting words.” When the world goes dark for us, when we can’t see two feet in front of us because the Enemy is working against us with everything he has, we need to pull out our “belt of truth” and fasten it firmly around our waists. Deuteronomy 11:18 encourages us to “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” Even the believers of the Old Testament needed fighting words to carry them through spiritual battles.
Years ago, on a shiveringly cold night, I snuggled under the warm covers of my bed and tried to sleep, but the darkness kept closing in. The very atmosphere of my bedroom felt antagonistic. Nothing in my life had changed. In fact, the day had been fairly routine, but lying there late at night, my mind would not let me sleep. Then, I remembered what someone had told me about calling on the name of Jesus. It felt a little awkward, but there was no one around to hear, so I spoke brokenly into the dark, “In the name of Jesus, leave this place.” I spoke to the Enemy. I spoke to the thoughts swirling through my mind. I spoke to my pounding heart. That was the first time I recall truly pulling out my fighting words.
Over the years, those words have grown to verses and truths that God has emblazoned on my heart. When I feel alone, I remember that I do not need to fear because “He is with me.” When I feel lost, I claim that He is “a light to my path.” When I feel plain, ordinary, and unworthy, I am reminded that “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…is of great worth in God’s sight.” And just as there is a “time for everything,” there is also a Word for everything. Daily, I will continue to open the Word so that I am prepared for any attack. I will use my fighting words.