The Inadequacy of Words

What do you do when you’re just itching to express something inside of you, but there’s so much noise in your head that you can’t make sense of a single thing? There’s just a lot of feeling. 

How do you express a feeling? How do you find the right combination of words to adequately explain the emotions and sensations you’re experiencing?

Words are sometimes so inadequate.

I know that writers can argue with that statement all day long. How dare I say such a thing? I must not understand the power of words and how writing works. I must have a limited vocabulary or a small, uncreative mind.

But the truth is, I love words. I adore writing. I use the word adore like you would with a newborn baby. My writing is my newborn baby. And yet I stumble over my incoherent thoughts and find that sometimes words just aren’t enough.

Like how do you explain what love feels like? People use phrases like “butterflies in their stomach”, “falling in love”, and “head over heels”, but none of those really explain love. Love is too complex, and these small phrases and words we use to try to express this feeling of love always fall short. No matter how touched we were by a love song or how perfectly-written a person’s wedding vows are, love is just one of those things you can’t put in a box. You can’t sum it up in words. You can’t adequately explain love.

And how do you explain sadness? What is sadness? Is it just the absence of happiness? Is that why the word “sadness” sometimes seems to be synonymous with the word “empty”? And then, how can you adequately define happiness?

Emotions and feelings are wild, crazy things, and sometimes our thoughts are just too jumbled and chaotic. We try to tame them with words, but the work is never complete. Like have you ever come across a poem or statement that someone wrote that seemed to explain your life so perfectly, you thought that maybe it was written about you? It’s an awesome thing. But the person who wrote those things doesn’t know the rest of your story. They don’t have the exact same experience as you. They only understand a part.

No person can fully put your life (and by life, I mean your desires, stories, experiences, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, etc) into words, no matter how badly we wish they would. We ourselves can’t even come close to fully putting our life into words.

You see, we are more than words. We are more than songs. We are more than quotes and poems and letters and mantras. We are more than our journals and prayers. We are even more than our own scrambled-up thoughts.

Words are indeed inadequate. We are far more amazing and complex than these combinations of letters. There is no canvas or piece of paper that can contain the beauty of our being. There are no lyrics that can unveil our soul’s entirety.

We are sons and daughters of God. We were given life from the Father for the Father. Everything is created and sustained by Him.

He is the only one who has the adequate words. His words are the only words that have enough power to encompass all we are. 

He made the universe and everything in it by His words alone. He spoke things into existence and those things cannot be moved from existence without His say-so. If something were out of His control, He wouldn’t be our all-powerful God, now would He? He sustains what He creates. In a way, it’s as if His words are forever echoed. Nothing can negate or undo what He speaks into existence, into motion, and into our lives.

Why do we try to use someone else’s words to explain who we are? Why do we think that our unique and complex lives and experiences can be explained and understood by another unique and complex being?

When did we begin to doubt the power of the Word of God? When did we start believing that the words of men are all we need?

We don’t need any other person defining our lives. We don’t need any other speeches or quotes to explain what we’re feeling inside. We need the Word of God. We can trust that His love poems are written out of the purest and fullest of loves, that His kind words spoken to us are eternally true and all-sufficient.

If you’re wondering why I’m writing this, the best explanation I can offer is that sometimes I feel so misunderstood– by the world, by people who love me, and even by myself (in this strange sort of way). I am constantly on a hunt for something, anything, that can tell me what it is I am feeling.

I crave a song that perfectly sums up my love for another. I search for novels that can adequately explain my sadness. I thumb through blogs and self-help Christian books that can perhaps explain why I feel such hope and joy.

But at the end of the day, the perfect string of words is nowhere to be found.

Sometimes the words of the world come close, but they’re nothing like the words of the divine. I’m always hungry for more.

And if you’re real honest with yourself, maybe you’ll realize that you, like me, have been hunting for the right words in all the wrong places. The answers we’re looking for are in God. This desperate desire to be understood is meant to lead us to Him.

We are fully known, fully understood, and fully loved by the Creator of language, words, and speech. Our words may be inadequate and insufficient, but His never are.

So it’s time to let Him speak.


  1. Janet

    “Happy are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled”. His righteousness (word) is living and eternal. Your mind is amazing! Thank you God for your creation in Jessie! One of your biggest fans…

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