Grace Drenched Words
September 1, 2020 | by jamie beeson
I walked into our bathroom, and there it was...a masterpiece covering the mirror, the countertops, the cupboard doors, the toilet, the floor, and the side of the bathtub. It was a smeary, smudgy, textured goo painted everywhere with the bathroom as a canvas. Upon further inspection, I realized it was Aquaphor (a thick, Vaseline-like healing ointment for super dry, cracked skin). I can see why my 2-year-old sweet boy was so intrigued! It IS a fun-feeling substance. Once he started digging and wiping, he just couldn't stop himself. I'm sure he was thinking, "Oh! The toilet needs some!" and "Oops! I missed a spot. I'll get more!"
Even after cleaning and cleaning and cleaning again, most of the surfaces still had a residue. It was a smudgy smear that reminded us of that fun adventure for weeks. It didn’t stop with Aquaphor, another child smeared toothpaste, and yet another one sprayed the bathroom with shaving cream and rolled around in it. All of those mediums left behind something long after we tried to erase its presence.
You and I can be like Aquaphor. We can be 'healing ointment,' but if misused, we can leave a yucky residue on the things we touch with our words. In today's world, we've never had more opportunities to use our words. Social media’s numerous platforms, coupled with messaging apps and texting, mean we express ourselves in more ways, more places, and are writing more often than we ever have before.
Have you ever read a text that made your stomach turn? We've all been there. Or maybe, you've observed - like a fly on the wall - a social media conversation that’s made you feel a bit slimed after reading it. I always tell my kids our words are like toothpaste or Aquaphor, once they come out, you can't put them back in, so choose your words wisely.
Our words have more power than that little sticks and stones rhyme gives credit. Words can be world wreckers or healing balm.
I hardly ever bake. I baked muffins the other day because we’d been out of town, I hadn't gotten groceries, and my kids wanted to eat. So, I used what we had in the cupboard. It smelled like muffins for days; the kind of aroma you can smell from a distance and you want to breathe in deeply. It may just put a literal smile on your face. I like to think our words have the ability to leave behind a sweet aroma that people want to drink in for days. Our mind is fascinating. It can take words and put them on replay over and over and over. Those words begin to create a story that our next behaviors and responses tend to be rooted in. Our words can help write someone else's story, positively and negatively.
I'm sure you've experienced both sides of this. Maybe you remember the words of a parent that belittled you, and they play again when you're feeling down. Perhaps you remember what she said about you in front of the whole room that turned your face as red as a strawberry. Alternately, there's likely been someone who said something to you that made you walk on cloud nine, and you hang on to their words when things are rough.
I’m challenging myself to be a muffin mouth, a girl who says things that leave a person lifted, lighter, and where the words soak in and last a while...a pleasing aroma. Grace drenched words. When it's time to speak something that may cause conflict, I’m trying to approach the truth wrapped in lots of grace and clarity. I'm a words girl; I like “sticky statements,” analogies, metaphors, and things that rhyme. I am rarely at a loss for words. I have found myself in an Aquaphor mess where I didn't use my words correctly. It left a residue that was hard to wipe off, all over the person around me, and on myself. I have been given the ability, as have you, to put Aquaphor where it's needed and wanted to bring healing. I’ve had the chance to put words out like freshly baked muffins that can bring joy, peace, or comfort to someone's day.
Can we agree to hold, choose, and use our words intentionally to build? I think the receiver of the words won't be the only one who benefits. You can smell the muffins too, and there's something super sweet about watching someone else soak in your words of healing, grace, and kindness.
Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak
If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that we need one another. Whether we are apart or together, young or old, healthy or sick, in agreement or disagreement, we were created for community. The strongest communities are built on foundations of love and respect for one another.