I used to watch Let’s Make a Deal a lot when I was a child. What intrigued me was the opportunity to make the right choice. Will the contestent choose Door Number One, which might open to a shiny red sports car, Door Number Two, which might open to a Vespa scooter, or Door Number Three, which might be hiding a . . . donkey. The contestent is nervous. The audience is yelling. The music heightens her anxiety. She must make a choice.
A few days ago, I posted “Windows and Doors.” I wrote that if our eyes are the windows of our souls, then perhaps our words are the doors of our souls. While our eyes reveal the nature of our soul, our words connect us to each other. I proclaimed that my door is made of glass so everyone feels welcome. That’s good, I thought.
However, I’ve been thinking of my door, my words, a lot since then. How do my words connect with others? Is my door promising a shiny red sports car or hiding a donkey? Do my words please or insult? Elevate or bring down? Speak blessings or curses?
Refined over years of cursing and insults to prove how tough I was, my words were my weapons. I polished my way of speaking in the work place of course, but my intent was the same. My husband used to tell me that I was an expert in delivering “paper cuts.” This is when blood doesn’t gush; it seeps out very, very slowly. Paper cuts hurt and take awhile to heal. Most times, a person didn’t realize I had insulted him until well after the meeting ended.
A turning point for me came in 2003. Sara had a cold, and I teased her about being a disease carrier. Very mild stuff for me; just teasing. Nancy immediately said, “Don’t speak it!” She recommended that I read “Hung by the Tongue,” a book written in 1979 by Francis Martin, a pastor. I really didn’t like the book at first. It read like a tract someone might hand me on the mall — lots of italicized and capitalized words. I could hear the preaching! The lesson resonated with me, though, and I have since read many good books on the effects of words we speak. And I read this book as a refresher course every now and then.
The thing about a door is that it is both an exit and an entrance. While I can guard my words, other words enter me everyday from other people, in songs, in books, in movies, even on the Internet. Words that enter shape my thoughts, and eventually determine the words I let out of my door.
So I’ve learned to put a screen door up. I think the sex and violence stuff is easy to screen out. A movie trailer and a book cover are good indications of what words are waiting to come through your door.
The stuff that’s harder to screen out are the more subtle messages — men are just objects of amusement, women need to be hard as nails, reality voyuerism, religious arrogance. At first, I can be drawn in by a good laugh, witty sarcasm, or just plain interest. Then I realize that the clever words from these sources are meant to make me feel dumb, or victimized, or unworthy or self-righteous, and I close my door.
I used to think it was too difficult to constantly screen out words I’m “not supposed” to hear. It was easier to listen to what others recommended, whether they were my family, friends, business associates, pastors. I let someone else be my screen.
Then He said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
And “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Back to “Let’s Make a Deal.” I am a nervous contestant crossing my fingers and biting my lip. Which door should I choose? I’d love a new car. Who wouldn’t? But a scooter would be nice for short trips to the supermarket.
There is too much noise and I feel rushed. I don’t know which door to pick. I look into the crowd. There He is. He smiles and waits for me to ask. “Father, you know what I need for whatever you have planned for me. You tell me.”