Family vocabulary – music
One of my family’s vocabulary words is music. My father’s family spent hours singing together -four-part a Capella music, for sure. Male quartets and ladies trios. When my uncle (as a child) had a broken leg, the only thing that quieted him was hearing his sister sing.
“Sing, Mabel, sing!” he’d cry, writhing in pain.
And Mable sang 1.
One of my favorite memories is the annual Thanksgiving event at my uncle and aunt’s house. All the uncles, aunts, and cousins were invited to their home for an annual tradition of singing (including Aunt Mabel).
They came from everywhere. How we managed to fit into their average-size farmhouse I’ll never know. The dining room table with boards removed was now square. Autumn-colored décor atop the tablecloth with a pile of songbooks confirmed the season.
Swinging with music
As kids, we weren’t interested in the music or the folks crowded into the kitchen/dining room combination. Our job was to carry coats, jackets, pocketbooks and hats upstairs to bedrooms, place them carefully on the beds, noting exactly where they were placed so they could be retrieved for the proper person at the proper time. Then we scampered outside to the front porch and pile on the porch swing. We’d swing and swing, pushing ourselves all the way to the side, then push back, again and again, and again.
Those were such happy days, and the memories warm me still. Nary a care in the world, and our only concern that evening was that the glass windows at the end of the porch did not break from the swing. (They never did, although I don’t know why.)
As we grew older, we participated in the singing while other younger children carried the coats and jackets to the upstairs bedrooms. I sat beside aunties and listened to them as I sang, learning notes and words by following along in the book and with my ears.
Their vocabulary held words like stoic and serious, these aunties. Somber, yet kind. I wondered how they became so strong, and solid, and sure. So certain that their faith was real and that God would take care of them – how did they know that? Sure, I believed in God and I had faith – but it had not yet truly become my own. I had not adapted their vocabulary as my own.
Now I’m the age of those aunties – and they are gone. I don’t feel serious, solid, strong, and sure like (I thought) they were. Yet this faith I have? It’s mine.
For a person who has their own faith, there’s a vocabulary: Faith. Goodness. Grace. Hope. Light. Love. Mercy. Peace. Righteousness. Trust. Truth.
Those words fill the pages of the book of Ephesians. In this letter from Paul to the church, there is a comparison of their old, former way of living to the new way now. Their vocabulary changed when they “put off” the old and “put on” the new. It’s also a part of their desire to develop an ethnically diverse church.
Those words belong in the vocabulary of a believer – every one of them. Written on our minds and in our hearts, they speak of promise and beauty, sunshine and strength. When I write these words across the top of a page, they’re like a rainbow, streaming light and hope, beauty and peace.
Having these words in my vocabulary does not mean I have achieved or arrived at perfection. It means they are a part of my thinking, my outlook, and my perspective. If you haven’t experienced these words, is it because they aren’t in your vocabulary?
Out with the old – in with the new vocabulary
If you’re struggling with 2020 and worried about the following year, perhaps it’s time to change your vocabulary. You’ll be surprised at the difference it can bring to your perspective.
When you’re hurting from brokenness, then do what my aunt Mabel did. Sing! Turn your thoughts to the promise God gave Noah after the flood.
As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.
God is faithful. He keeps His promises. You can take that to the bank.
1 Memories from Mabel and Harvey’s youngest sister, my aunt Rhoda, shared at a family reunion.