Marriage & Family Life: Focusing on words during Lent

by Adam Storey | April 2, 2019

Adam Storey

Growing up, my Lenten sacrifices tended to center around food.

I’d give up candy, or snacks, or, as a young adult, beer.

But in the last few years, I’ve often been moved to try and give up noise, whether that’s turning off the radio or reading fewer online articles, or making greater efforts to avoid gossip.

Even more recently, I have noticed a worthy message from a former member of our diocese, Dr. Tom Neal, whose has encouraged readers of his blog to fast from words. As he says, “not simply to make them fewer, but to make them worthier of our dignity and his majesty.”

In Scripture, we certainly find a theme of the importance of words, we are told that we can be defiled by our words (Matt 15:11), that our words have the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21), and that we will have to give an account for every careless word we say (Matt 12:36). And in marriage and family life, I can think of few things that can do more to build marriage up, or tear it down, than words.

My wife, Kara, is very generous with me, and it is a singular joy when I hear her bragging about something I’ve done, or who I am. She often tells me that she loves me and is proud of me, and those words have power. They have power, too, when I hear her tell someone else about her love and pride.

The opposite is also true. Words of anger and contempt can destroy a marriage. I’ve had to entrust many situations to God’s mercy, when I’ve lost my patience, or intentionally hurt others through my words.

I’ve found that it’s easiest to speak cutting words to the ones we’re closest to, even when it’s the most harmful.

All of us fail in our speech, but this Lent is a chance to repent and to begin again.

To entrust our failings to God’s infinite mercy, and to commit again to speak words that build up, and impart grace (Ephesians 4:29), especially within our families.


Adam Storey

Adam Storey leads the Marriage Ministry Department for the Diocese of Des Moines, which seeks to work with parishes and couples, walking with all families in all their stages, in their joys and sorrows, their celebrations and challenges.