111 points for the word “filigree.” Using all 7 tiles on a triple letter and a triple word space, the word thrust me toward my highest score ever in Words with Friends (496 points), and is forever seared in my mind as one of my biggest confidence boosters in my life. That’s right, a silly word game I began playing almost 10 years ago on my little iPhone 3 kept me going during some of the darkest years of my life.
Every time I see the word “filigree” it warms my soul and reminds me I might be a little smarter than I thought. You see, words have power. Much like that word I missed back in the 5th grade spelling bee that continues to haunt me at times.
“C-L-U-T-Z,” I spelled out loud for the win. Oh man, how I hate that word.
Somehow I identified with ‘klutz’ and sort of personalized that word. “Klutz” became a part of me and signified my abilities, it took root. Ever so slightly it grew in my heart, and as hard times came, as hard times will, the negativity from “klutz” defined me. That’s how negativity works, it weasels its way into our lives in ways we may not even notice. Negativity is like a weed growing in the midst of a beautiful flower garden, its presence ruins the view for everyone and disrupts the foundation when it is finally yanked out. So we need to pull it out before the roots set in.
Since struggling with a serious mental health diagnosis, I have been inspired to make the choice to not stay where I am. I try to not let negativity take root. I continue cultivating completeness. I can either move toward wellness or move toward illness, and for me illness is not my destiny. And it isn’t yours either. Even when I couldn’t see, God used certain things in my life to build a new and better foundation. One of these foundational supports was Words with friends. (hey, you have to start somewhere.)
There are five ways God used this silly word game to unconsciously save my life.
- Build Confidence – When you are given a mental health diagnosis, it destroys your confidence. However, as I had success in Words with friends (WWF), I could see the natural progression of success in life. Practicing and honing my craft (my love for words) and seeing success in my number of wins helped keep me afloat during a time where my confidence was lacking. After being hospitalized, I felt like a failure, a loser, a k-l-u-t-z! My confidence, at an all time low, began to grow again.
- Built-in Community – Whether it is someone you know or a random opponent, when we feel a part of something bigger than ourselves, we feel belonging. Belonging is a core foundational support. It is what helps us grow and gives us a hand to hold as we walk through life.
- Increased Connection – Isolation is where the enemy does his best work. However, being connected to others, even through an online game, can keep us focused on someone other than ourselves. Knowing someone is waiting for us to play our ‘word’ can remind us we are not alone and someone out there cares – even if it is only our turn to play.
- Enhanced Creativity – Creativity does not get the acknowledgement it deserves. Creativity feeds the soul and the souls of others. God himself, the author of creativity endorses our own creativity. As we are challenged to work with what we are given, such as 7 vowels, we can avoid quitting and hope for the best. Often having small resources can cause us to be more creative in our endeavors and further build our confidence. Remember, it only takes one point to win.
- Competition – okay I know this may be controversial, but competition is good, when it is done with the right motives. WWF enables us to consistently work harder against ourselves and promotes progress against ourselves. This is the way we need to face life, not comparing against others who may seem to have it all together, but to compete against our yesterday self. You are the only person you have control over, to make a difference.
So let’s do it! Whether it’s WWF or the game of life, let’s move forward in our mental health and not be a weed that takes over the entire garden, but instead become a garden filled with the life giving ability to flourish and even nourish others.
What has kept you in the game of life? During your darkest days, what has given you hope and practice to keep going? I hope you’ll share in the comments and bless others with the hope you’ve experienced.
In my next post, I will begin a three part series regarding my own story of mental illness and journey toward wellness. I hope you’ll continue to join me as we talk about Mental Health.
Defined by Him,