We knew that it was coming. This was the reason why we had begun reading to our son John in the womb.
He had a bookshelf and a personal library before he could hold up his head, much less turn a page. I purchased flash cards before he could walk. I asked people to talk to him using real words. No baby talk.
So, that last one might have been a bit of overkill but I was serious. OK. Full disclosure. I still am.
Words are important to me. I know how powerful they are. So when I took my then three month-old son to daycare after returning to work, I would say all of the good words that I could think of.
“You are an intelligent man, a righteous man, a kind and compassionate man, an honest man, a faithful man, a gentleman.” I wanted him to know how much I loved him and believed in him. I shared how proud I was to be his mother and how thankful I was to have him as a son.
Some would argue that he couldn’t have understood what I was saying, that it was a waste of time. But the affirmations continue.
And while at the park one day, I overheard my now two year-old son introducing himself to a new friend by pointing to himself and saying, “Hi. I genius.” He told his teacher, Miss Heather, the same thing and she now calls him “Genius John.”
Yes, I told him that he was a genius. But now he speaks for himself.
His first word was mama. I jumped out of bed when I heard it. I knew that it was coming. Every child says it unless deformity or disability prevents it. It is predictable and to be expected.
Still, It was no less a miracle for me. I had been speaking to him and now he speaks to me. I was speaking for him and now he speaks for himself.
It was a holy moment. Selah.
But, not only do I have a speaking son but I am in relationship with the speaking God, the Word-God. Sure, we know that God has spoken, that God has messengers. We have a personal library, sixty-six books to prove it.
But, we are quite surprised when He speaks—present tense—and more so, when God speaks to us directly. God doesn’t call me “Mama” though.
When the God that we have been speaking to speaks back to us, we might just jump out of bed like I did when my son said his first word. It is in these moments that we become aware that we are living epistles, that God is not only talking to us but writing on us, that we are being touched by the finger of God and becoming Word-people.
I knew that God’s word was coming but I might have only been prepared for baby talk, not the pure and righteous words that He spoke over me.
“You are a blessed woman, a highly favored woman, a holy woman, a called woman, a priestly woman.”
I am discovering more and more that it is in God’s speaking that I am revealed. Like my relationship with my son, what God says about me discloses who I am. So, I only repeat after God in my introductions, confident that He speaks for me.
Reverend Starlette McNeill serves as the Associate Pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland. She is a wife, a lover of reading, writing and Starbucks and the mother of one amazing son, John.