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The Beaconing Power of a Word

| written by Melanie Gillgrist | 3 comments


“I remember! When there is an ‘e’ at the end it makes the ‘a’ loooong.” Drawing an arrow from his ‘e’ to his ‘a’ in the word ‘cake’, his big brown eyes look up to me to see if he is on the right track. My first grader is learning the intricacies of our English language. He is absorbing the mechanics of what makes letters become words. But long before this, he has understood the power of words. 

The power of a mama saying “I am so sorry for being impatient, will you forgive me?” The unexplainable freedom and transformation that comes.

The power of a father whispering “I love being your dad.” The way those utterances make their way to the deep parts of a soul.

Yes, these words we speak, they have power. Some days I throw them around, not waiting to see where they hit. Some days I hold them tightly to my chest, afraid their vulnerability might break me.

And some days, the days when I am brave, I let them tenderly wash over my soul. Letting them soak into the unclenched crevices. And offer them back as sacred gifts, gently waiting for them to be unwrapped.

Choosing a word, one word, for the year has been a beacon. A light by which what is true and lovely is discovered. A place for the power of a word to take hold. Throwing aside the words that lie and destroy and hinder. The beacon guides and directs. Giving hope when the waters are choppy and rocks loom large ahead. Calling me towards home, encouraging me to an abundant journey and a landing place.

A beacon in itself is never the goal. Its purpose is to provide light for something else. Light towards a goal, a hope, a dream. Our OneWords are the same. Not the end goal, but the vehicle of illumination. Of perspective. Of growth and change. Of strength and rest. 

When the days become busy and the voices become many, it has the power to whisper or shout “Look over here, remember me? Here is truth. Here is grace. Here is what you seek.”

Last year the word “Stand” was my beacon, casting new light on decisions and challenges.

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” 2 Chronicles 20:17 

Not to sit complacent while the battle is fought. Not to run—to not storm ahead and win the battle on my own strength.  My beacon over and over reminded me to take up my position and stand firm. Woven throughout the year was a greater propensity to actively stand and wait for the direction of his voice. An increased intimacy with the one who longs to fight for me. A new rhythm of abiding. 

I type these words looking out frosted windows to a yard covered with snow. A lot of it. My word for 2014 is Uncover. My heart feels frozen like the ground outside. I’m not seeing where the beacon will take me this year. I long to see the green of spring, to see my word flourishing.  Yet I know it takes time and patience to uncover. I trust there is work going on in secret places, invisible to me.

This season reminds me it too holds beauty and purpose. The snow purifies and calms. The white hushes the world and holds me captive to reflection. After the death of winter, new life always comes. Time to uncover what has laid dormant. To thaw out layers. To prepare for what will indeed surface. 

For now, this is my glimpse of where this beacon of light will guide. Realizing the slowness of it is part of the process of noticing, of uncovering. Of not rushing, nor forcing. No, let’s let this OneWord unfold. All of our onewords lingering and coming into their own. Their power and persistence. Their gentleness and rest. Their ability to speak into our lives in ways we can’t control. That’s the power I want to live and breathe in.

How has your OneWord been a beacon?

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Melanie Gillgrist loves slowing down to notice the movement of God in the daily ‘washing dishes, going to work’ kind of life. Conversation around redemption, long roads to parenting, adoption and grace make her heart beat strongly. She spends her days in Western PA with a husband who is a pastor and a son who is a lego builder. She’s an extroverted introvert, with an MBA in Finance and a poet’s heart. So if you are ever looking for reflective spreadsheets, she’s the one to see. Melanie writes at Blue Marble God and you can also connect with her on Facebook and (even though she hasn’t gotten the hang of it) on  Twitter.


Amy Grace: My word 'Fire' has been a beacon as I have been entering all these new experiences with performance art and the 'doubts' that come along with. I have remembered that God gave me "Fire" before I knew OneWord existed and that fire is to be walked into, not to be frightened by. I have faith like the Shadrach, Meesach and Abendigo. I walk into the furnace of fire and know these experiences won't destroy, but save and give voice to what I stand for. God has a way of lighting Word once you give it a place in your heart. Reply

    Melanie: Amy, I love the word Fire and the strength of it. Yes, he does seem to give light to a word once it's in our heart. Praying with you and the new experiences. Reply

Jennifer Baldacci: My word is LET! I am such a control freak, OCD, leader that I have had a very hard time in 2014 learning to let go! My plans are good, I have been blessed with many talents, I have huge goals and dreams but I don't let God be the master of my daily plans and life! I do not ever sit down, I do not listen, I do not breathe daily! God is in this moment not my plans for what I will think will be great moments in my future. Let love effect my heart, Let God give me daily blessings, Let me appreciate the small moments each day, Let others speak, Let others mold my life, Let the holy spirt drive my soul each moment, Let my body and mind rest....just LET life happen as God wants my journey to unfold into his woven master piece of eternity! Reply

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