I have always understood the power of words. After all God Himself used words to create our universe. But I never understood the effect that even the smallest words can have on our spirits, until I had to choose between using either “but” or “and” for a paper that I was writing. Both words are conjunctions, joining one thought to another. However, “but” is used to introduce something that contrasts what has already been mentioned. In other words, “but” stops a thought in its tracks and introduces something else. Let me use a personal example in a sentence here to illustrate what I mean:
“I prayed to God daily for my husband to be healed of cancer, but he died.”
“And” is used to connect words of the same part of speech, clauses or sentences that are to be taken jointly. In other words “and” connects an additional idea to be considered equally with the first one. Let’s look at the same sentence using “and” instead of “but”.
“I prayed to God daily for my husband to be healed of cancer, and he died.”
What is the difference? In both sentences I prayed to God for a specific outcome. In both sentences I acknowledge that It did not work out the way I wanted. In both sentences the reader can assume that I am probably grieving. However, the difference in these two sentences is profound
“But” focuses on the pain and disappointment of the situation. I asked God for something and He refused my request and rejected my prayer. I am stuck with the fact that, every time I repeat this sentence, my emotions tell me that my interaction with God was a failure. “But” suggests my prayers may be futile in the future; just as they were in this horrible situation. “But” shuts me down, and dismisses my efforts on behalf of my husband. I am already feeling low and “but” leaves me there mourning my loss.
“And” confirms that I am fully aware that nothing worked out the way I had prayed it would as well. It does not change the pain I feel, nor does it deny what happened. Yet the “and” in the second sentence empowers me to consider my prayer and my husband’s death as two equal issues. Yes, something horrible happened – now where do I go from here? “And” allows me to have my feelings, but my feelings don’t “have me” trapped in negativity. I am not stuck in the finality of the outcome, because that one word gives me the emotional space I need to heal. Finally “and” suggests that after I have journeyed a while through my grief, other possibilities for hope and joy just might be on the horizon.
Be encouraged and watch your words!