Have you ever been told something as a child, or maybe even as an adult, that replays over and over again in your mind and holds you back? I was reminded of this idea after a conversation with a dear friend this morning. One “blessing” of being a female is that you hear these broken records play again and again, good or bad. We would like to say that it doesn’t bother us, but let’s get real. The words tend to echo back at us at some point or another. Like toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube, once the words are out…there’s no putting them back and the damage is done.
We can easily and quickly tear down another woman’s feelings quicker than we know by the words and tone we choose to use. For me, it was when I cheered for Tampa Bay Storm (hmmm, have I failed to mention that detail to many of you? Funny what you can learn about someone the more you get to know them – but that’s a whole other story for a later date). We were at a photo shoot for a team poster and calendar and the coach continually tried to discretely hide or disguise parts of my body that she didn’t want seen in the picture. The group was set and poised and the shoot began, until finally she got frustrated enough that she stopped the pictures and shouted out across the group, “Kelly you’re ruining the picture, just cover up your stomach so we can’t see it.” And there it was, the record started playing. Her words cut across the buzz and excitement of the girls on a photo shoot and created an immediate silence that was almost too intense to stand. It was as if at that moment time stood still so much so that I’m not sure I could even hear anyone else breathe. There were no stares as the awkwardness was almost too much for the rest of the group to bear and they couldn’t even look at me to give me that sympathetic, “everything is gonna be ok look”. I’m sure that the memory is only my own and no one else from that day would even remember it, including my coach. For me though the words were etched in stone and placed on the record player to be played over and over again. Now fast forward 16+ years…I have a new found confidence (belly covered or uncovered) in the woman that God has so delicately knit together (Psalm 139). I may still hear that statement from time to time, but it no longer has the same power over me. In fact, I can find humor in it now, especially, when I think about how “thin” I truly was at that time.
After hearing the story this morning of a young girl who was told she couldn’t, I was quickly brought back to that place of how powerful our words are, especially to women and even more importantly to young girls and our own daughters. Do we say things in passing to young women and friends that puts an immediate roadblock up for them? What have I said in passing and in anger that plays like a broken record in my own daughter’s mind? Do I even realize it when I say these things to her? I am reminded that even in the last 24 hours, I have managed to say things to both of my children that in hindsight were completely out of line and in the big picture didn’t matter. For instance, Parker was adamant that she was going to pick up the watermelon from the grocery cart yesterday. I continually said no; however, as soon as she pulled it up out of the cart, it went quickly to the ground. She franticly tried to get the watermelon off the floor only to then bounce the watermelon off the floor two more times. Meanwhile I am saying, “stop, leave it, LET ME get it”…and maybe a few other not so nice things were thrown in unexpectantly. My words cut quickly and to the point, which at the time did not seem like a big deal; however, I saw her spirit fall right there in the checkout line. Then this morning Cooper insisted he would get the jelly out of the fridge for me – might I add, it was a brand new never opened jelly. Just like the watermelon, it quickly met its demise on the kitchen floor. Let me tell you, when jelly jars hit tile floor, the jelly stays in its perfect congealed shape and the jar shatters into an unrecognizable dust on your kitchen floor. Again, the words cut like a knife and I saw him deflate. My mind is racing with dollar signs, messes, frustration, why didn’t you just let ME do it? Ugh! But why oh why can I not see that they just wanted to help and take the opportunity to use it as a teachable moment and say, “oh well, just an accident. Let’s clean this up together and get another one.” After all, big picture…it’s just jelly and watermelon, right?
My mind quickly goes to Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
On the flip side, how can a positive comment in passing influence someone? When someone compliments your outfit, your hair, something you did….do you find that your shoulders are pulled back more and your head stands just slightly higher? In fact, if it wasn’t for a quick passing comment to me on facebook, I’m not sure there would even be a blog. This blog is a hope I have had for a long time; however, the records played enough times making me question “do I have what it takes for a blog? Do people really want to read what I have to say? Who do I think I am? Yeah right, you can’t do a blog”. I am grateful for my friend Greta who said, “you should start a facebook page and then I want to see your blog”. Six short words is all it took to get the record to spin once more: I - want - to - see - your - blog. It was quick and in passing and yet it was spoken with confidence as if the blog was already in existence. There were no questions like, have you ever considered a blog? do you think you could write a blog that people would be intersted in reading? But rather her confident words were an imprint on my heart and the one more push that I needed to get moving and motivated to create the blog. I am double checking and triple checking myself today to make sure my comments, in passing or conscious conversations, are spirit filled and meant to edify and not tear down.
Well, I am beginning to realize that my blog writing is very similar to my talking, which means I have been rambling for awhile. So for now…it’s time for his belly covering gal to walk away from the computer and wrap my arms around my jelly crusher and watermelon smasher and let them know how much they are loved! So glad there is grace and an AMAZING God who fills in all my holes!
Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."