Life Sentences

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“From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:20-21
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“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
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Years ago I learned a valuable lesson in church about “life sentences.” The series talked about the power of words. The things we say and the effect they can have on others. And also that we choose the impact that words spoken to us from others have on us personally. We choose to allow someone to offend us or make us mad. We choose the length of time and the magnitude in which words spoken to us influence our life.
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Towards the end of my marriage there were a lot of things that my ex said that could have had a monopoly on my self worth. Many of the daggers flew past me and left no abrasion. However one word in particular created a lot of chaos internally. Multiple times he called me, “boring.” It seems like that could be pretty harmless since it is somewhat a common word and experienced by everyone at some point or another. I wanted to be exciting. I wanted him to want to be around me. I wanted to give him life and joy. I didn’t want to be a ball and chain he had to drag around.
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When I was still trying to save our marriage, I remember panicking trying to figure out fun things for us to do. I would rack my brain trying to think of something he would think was exciting. At the very end, I made suggestions and he turned them down because he was already out in his heart and in his mind. It was painful to not be enough.
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I carried this life sentence with me for a while. I allowed it to make me feel insecure.
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Healing began in a very unexpected way. I remember being at work and a student worker asked what I was doing that weekend. I had recently began a mentorship under a local potter. I was so excited to learn the new art and find purpose again. That weekend I was supposed to go to the shop and work behind the front desk when customers were in the shop and then work on pottery or mixing glazes or whatever was needed, while the shop was empty. At first I didn’t want to tell her what I was doing that weekend because I thought she would think it was boring and that I was a boring person. I ended up telling her and she paused and then responded that that was like the coolest thing ever. I was surprised and learned something valuable. My cup of tea is not everyone’s but it isn’t no one’s. Just because my ex thought things about me were boring…my desire to think things through and make the best decision instead of just a decision…my need to be responsible and take ownership of the outcome of my actions…my dedication to do what I say I am going to do…my need to process disagreements and fights so that I would not say things in the heat of the moment…among other things…doesn’t mean that the next person feels the same way. I saw this quote a short time after: “Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.”
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We all have the capacity to give life with our words. We can make the choice to lift up everyone around us. I want to bring healing with my words. I want to encourage and inspire. I want to breathe life into others instead of throwing daggers. As much as I want to bring life to others, I also want to keep life within me. I want to love people even when they have thrown daggers my way. If I were unoffendable I would be able to exude love.
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If someone were to call me boring today, I’d laugh at them and walk away. Because honestly…I’m not bored. 😏

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