It's Hard to Put into Words

It’s Hard to Put into Words

There is an internal world to every one of us with words that need sharing, but it’s hard to put into words, so we need someone safe to help us.

They wanted him to tell them what was going on inside, but it felt more like he was in the corner of a boxing ring and they were ready to punch.

When you’re in that kind of space, everything can either shut down or liven up.

For some, they will fight, others will flee, then for others, they will freeze. No words, no expression, just a closed and bolt shut door to the inside of the soul.

It’s then impossible to put anything into words.

I think men, in particular, find it difficult to put complex soul stuff into words. They may want to, but they just don’t know how, especially under the threat of potential getting it wrong. So they shut down.

The ‘going quiet’ becomes a default setting as they try to work it out themselves.

Society breeds into men that should have it all together, to have all the answers and be quick in response. They that are the achiever’s, problem solvers, and heroes on white horses wearing superman capes.

Yet, in reality, all men, if they are honest, have a quivering jelly like heart that wrestles every day with intangibles.


It’s hard to put it into words

‘How are you?’

‘How are you?’

‘How are you?’

‘How are you?’
‘It’s hard to put into words’

How are you, reader, as you read these words? Can you put into words some of the deeper tracts of the soul?

Every journey begins with where you are. Not where you hope to be, could be, should be, or want to be.

Where you are is where you are.

It’s hard to put into words, but if you are going to progress on from where you are now, surely you need to see where our feet are planted now.

What are you doing here?

A man was on the run. Running from a woman who wanted to kill him.

He was in a corner of a boxing ring and a woman by the name of Jezebel wanted to kill him.

Elijah was on the run, literally and figuratively. He ran into the wilderness. No one would find him there.

God finds him. God always finds us. We can never unrun God.

God’s love pursued his panicked heart to a place of exhaustion and surrender.

Elijah hears and sees it all, then a still small voice whispers around him.

Then God speaks.

‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

Elijah puts his story into words.

 “I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.” 1 Kings 19:10

If I had been having a conversation with Elijah, I may well have asked him to put into words what feelings were coursing their way through his soul.

Tiredness, exhaustion, fear, panic, abandonment, anger, worry – lots of worry. 

I may well have tried to normalise these responses.

‘Fair enough, for what you have been through, those would be normal responses for anyone.’

It’s healthy to bring the hidden depths of the soul to the surface for expression.

‘What are you doing here?’ is an invitation to a ground zero reality of what’s happening for you here and now. Out of that awareness of ‘the now’ is an invitation to step forward and not set up camp in a cave.

Put into words

I like to help people put things into words.

I always find that out of the alphabet soup swimming around in their confused thought life that bringing clarity helps to solidify what the next step is to be taken.

It takes time, beautiful and unhurried time.

Some words that come out may be contained within a highly expressive, cathartic vomit. It all spills out and we quietly have to pick out the truth.

Some words needed coaxing out with warmth and good humour. Some with sadness and tears.

But the words are there. They simply need a welcome mat to land on. ‘Come on in, you’ll be safe here.’

We will find the words within the story.

Tell me the story

Good listeners want to hear the story.

They are looking for the story under the story, the one the storyteller may not be wanting to tell. 😉

  • Tell me the story of the day, week, month, year, lifetime.
  • Which particular story wants itself to be told?
  • What are the feelings and emotions that are living within those stories?
  • E+R=O Event + Response = Outcome. What events have happened and how did you respond to them? What was the outcome for you?
  • What has filled your cup? What has drained your cup?

Words may be expressed in a multitude of ways.

  • Verbally
  • Written – journal, poetry, essays, short stories, etc
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Music

The important thing is to express the words.

I suppose it’s a kind of purge, a cleaning of the inside of the cup.

Jesus, I believe, is more interested in the inside of your life, where the heart is, than the external appearance you want to portray.

Soul work is an inside out journey.

What happens on the inside transmutes to the outside.
First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean. Matthew 23:26

Jesus was very good at putting things into words.

Perhaps in the past, when you have put things into words, you’ve been ridiculed or punished for the expression. You’ve been told never to have feelings.

So you have developed a perfect stiff upper lip. A shiny and tough external defence shield.

That external shield will, however, become like the walls of a pressure tank. Words and emotions will morph into each other and create pressures that will affect the body.

Illnesses, including mental illnesses, will eat away at your very life.

Let the bad air out.

Let the words come with someone safe.

 Quotes to consider

  • A vital part of emotional growth is the process of bringing feelings and emotions to word and expression. Only then can they be processed. D. Riddell
  • It’s really hard to put into words things that are just a little bit not okay. Sayaka Murata
  • You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this. Henry David Thoreau
  • Strangled by confusion, my mind is in decay
    Can’t picture tomorrow, can’t remember yesterday
    Send out for the Black & Decker and the psychiatric couch
    Open up the window, let the bad air out. Bruce Cockburn
  • Real change begins on the inside then moves out – into freedom. Larry Crabb
  • A good journey begins with knowing where we are and being willing to go somewhere else. Richard Rohr

Questions to answer

  1. Why do you think it’s hard to put into words some of the deeper places of the soul?
  2. How have people treated you when you have shared some words from the deep places?
  3. Do you think men find it harder to put into words the deep stuff compared to women? Why?

Formation exercise

  • What’s your internal cup walls like? Are you able to put into words with someone safe the inside stuff? Find someone this week to do this with. Or perhaps email me.

Further reading

Please. No Fixing, Advising, Saving or Straightening Out

Listening for the Echoes of the Past can Change your Tomorrow

The Cup. Paying Attention To What Fills and Drains

Barry Pearman

Photo by Sander Weeteling on Unsplash


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