In the beginning was the Word, 
and the Word was with God, 
and the Word was God. 
The light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness has not overcome it.

To have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish, until death do us part.” Wedding vows are some of the most sacred and binding words exchanged between two people on earth, and it is their very sacredness that gives them power to devastate when broken. 

Shortly after I exchanged my own wedding vows in 2013, I experienced the power of words to steal, kill, and destroy. The same mouth that promised me love and fidelity only days earlier spit angry words like venom at me, uniquely targeted to pierce my unprepared heart. Something had drastically changed, but I did not know why. And that was just my honeymoon. What followed was two and a half years of verbal abuse, manipulation, and lies. Words were the weapon of choice, and I fought back with words: ugly words, words I wish I had never spoken. During that time, I wrote in snatches — scarcely able to admit what was happening. When I look back at my journals from those years, I find prayers penned in desperation, loneliness, and confusion. I see fury expressed in dark swirls and slashes of ink that tore through the paper. I was trying to write my way through the darkness, to find a narrative that made sense while barely being able to hold the broken pieces of my life together. After that marriage ended, I remember driving over Lake Washington on a long suspension bridge at night while feeling the emptiness of being suspended between two stories: the death of my old life and the birth of a new life I hoped was possible. As I drove, I listened to a song on repeat in an attempt to make its words my own. The lyrics are based on a God-given promise from Isaiah 54: No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.” 

Healing takes time, and the weapons of words forged against me had left their mark. In time, God refashioned those weaponized words into tools of my deliverance. God began writing a new story for me and invited me to pick up my own pen and join him. And this is what we do when we write with our holy pens in hand: we push back the darkness, we unwrite the lies that the Enemy uses against us, and we tell the truth back to ourselves and to a broken world — as many times as it takes until beauty does, in fact, save the world, as writer Fyodor Dostoevsky once proposed. 

For this reason, healing and growth in my identity as Beloved has looked like a Word-saturated life: writing out the wounds and wonderings of my heart and engaging with the goodness and mystery of Scripture; reading beautiful words like contemporary poetry, Psalms, the book of Revelation, and children’s fantasy literature; following practical words, too, like recipes for food that gladdens the heart, instructions on how to put Ikea furniture together — how to build a life out of the materials we hold in our hands. Flour and water, hammer and nail, pen and paper. It is possible to build a new life out of words. 

Yet words alone are not enough. Words are ink on paper, sound and breath. What gives any word the power to speak freedom, life, and beauty into the hearts of humankind is this truth: Word became flesh and dwelt among us. With his body and blood, Jesus Christ is the living Word that gives life to our written and spoken words. Just as wedding vows give us full access to lifelong intimacy and partnership with a spouse, so does the givenness of Jesus — the true Word — grant us full entrance into the intimacy and joy of the Trinity. The Word was given. So we are one with God, made whole in Christ.

Jesus on the cross is God saying, I give you my Word.”

When I think of Jesus as the Given Word — God’s sacred vow to humankind — it changes how I live and transforms how I write. It reminds me that when I pick up my pen, I am in the presence of the Holy One — joining my words with the Word. It tells me that there is power in the Word to unveil mysteries, to heal broken hearts, to lift up the downcast. Writing with the Word means that healing is possible with each dotted i” and crossed t.” There is resurrection power in the Word — maybe I should tremble a bit more when I write. When we write in partnership with the sacred presence of God, we lift up words as candles in the darkness and watch as the darkness is displaced by the light. The Word shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The first chapter of Hebrews says that The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” On my second wedding day, my own face shone with the radiant joy of redemption. It shone with the presence of God and within the sacred embrace of that presence, I made a second set of vows — deeper and more lasting than the first, made truer by the suffering I’d experienced. That day reflected the light of the One who keeps the ultimate covenant of love to a thousand generations, sustaining all things by the power of his word. Jesus is the glorious embodiment of God’s wedding vow to all of Creation and to each one of us. This is beautiful news — something worthy of our best and noblest words. God has given the Word. God keeps his word, and the Word keeps us.

Related Podcast

Essay copyright © Katelyn Dixon, Oct. 62023.

Photo by Clever Visuals on Unsplash

Text First Published October 2023 · Last Featured on October 2023