Meanderings Of A Restless Mind

My friend Lilly made the bookmark in the picture. it is tattered and a little torn from use just as I am today. I am dictating this as I am laid up, or I should say my hand is laid up with a bent finger.

The bookmark is placed in a chapter in the book, He Still Moves Me, by Max Lucado. I am on the chapter called Bruised Reeds and Smoldering Wicks. The chapter addresses being frail, like a bruised reed bent but still standing by the rivers edge.

This chapter, as well as the entire book resonates with me this morning because the first thing I thought of when I woke up, for some strange reason, is are we overthinking our purpose in life? What if our only purpose in life were to be kind to one another? I posted that on my Facebook page this morning.

I think the thought came to my mind because of all the unsettling news in the world today. Yesterday all I wanted to post was the words “I am a Christian and an American.”

I am not defined by a political party or by a certain denomination. I am defined by what is in my heart and by what I believe to be right and wrong and how I live my life.

That doesn’t mean I am the perfect person. I let myself be defined by outside influences. And because of it I define others or perhaps I should say I create an atmosphere in my relationships, or in my interactions which causes me to put a definition, right wrong on my friends or family that may change the path of their life, blurring their expectations of who they really are. Yes our words do influence others, occasionally in the wrong way.

This paragraph in Max Lucado’s book hit me hard this morning. It asks us if we are that bruised reed. If we once stood tall with confidence but the words of others, the criticism, words of anger, words of failure by religions rigidity, wounded and bent us and left us blowing In the wind.

Many of us are that bent reed. I don’t know what happens for you, but I know for me it makes me strike out or retreat because I want to stay out of the way of the harshness. And it makes us feel less than ok with ourselves, operhaps turning us into someone we are not, someone of harshness or anger. A person who wounds and lashes out to keep ourselves safe from the wounds of others. We retreat or attack.

I’ve always been a talker, I talk fast and I ramble on and I have always been made fun of for talking so much. And it makes me feel bad. But I have never said anything to those who criticize my talking. I have never shared that I ramble on because I feel less than, or I ramble on because I’m nervous, or I ramble on because I am just so uncomfortable in social situations.

When I am teased or criticized for talking too much I hide my hurt, and sometimes I retreat and I’m more silent because I am uncomfortable in the presence of the person that made fun of me and my personality. It makes me feel that I’m less than and it is not acceptable to be who I am.

My reading this morning made me realize that I am that bruised reed and I imagine there are so many people out there just like me. I also know that I probably many times have been the cause of making someone else feel that way.

The past weeks myself and others have spent an enormous amount of time and energy defending our views and not listening, or trying to understand the views of one another, making each of us feel wrong or attacked because we believe what we believe. And when we feel cornered we attack too and nothing is accomplished except losing our own integrity.

I have noticed that many attacks on the political front come from people who are normally outgoing and outspoken, and yes sometimes I am the outspoken one. I think we get louder and talk more if we feel we are not being heard or we want to bully someone into taking our side. Doing that makes others cower in fear and retreat and be silent, because they feel speaking out causes attack and they want to be peaceful. It stops us from hearing the wisdom of those silent voices.

There seems to be a certain criteria to be an accepted Christian depending on what denomination we choose, and there seems to be a certain criteria that says we have to take sides and be one or the other, Republican or Democrat. Depending on which side we choose, which denomination we choose, determines whether we are good or bad.

We are told we have to have a purpose in life and that too is causing us stress because that is even become an arguable point. If we aren’t helping or volunteering enough or choosing to be very busy then we need to look for our calling. I once was told by someone that my calling was to take my mother-in-law into my home to care for her when she had Alzheimer’s. I couldn’t care for her the way I knew she needed. It was a detriment to her health if I took care of her but yet I felt the pressure of someone feeling that. There is never a day when we can live up to all the expectations put on us by society.

I don’t claim to be an expert on anything especially the Bible, but this chapter in this book spoke to me. Matthew 12:20 says a bruised reed will not break, and a smoldering wick will not be snuffed out.

So I will say it again; I am a Christian. I am an American. I am a talker and I am going to work on my purpose in life, being just to be kind and see where that takes me. I am that bruised reed, bent and blowing in the wind, and you know what? I accept that.

Be kind, especially if you comment on this post. Laugh out loud, because instead of writing, I dictated this so I guess I do talk maybe too much at times, but I am accepting that part of me. It is who I am.



Words Can Break A Heart

Something About Nothing published the Week of April 3, 2016 in the Albert Lea Tribune.

I had to visit the dentist last week and have a tooth pulled. I actually needed two teeth pulled — one on each side of my mouth — but I opted for the right side of my mouth to be tampered with first. It was the tooth that was in the most pieces.
I have a fear of the dentist that goes back to my childhood. An ungraceful badminton racket swing by a friend took out my two front teeth. I moved forward to get the birdie, while my friend moved backward. Amazingly enough it was a perfect swing, catching just my teeth but not my mouth.
The summer beginning my eighth-grade year in school was spent in the dentist office. There was no soft music, gentle touch or pain-free dental equipment, nor was there a dentist with steady hands. The fear fueled by those memories lasts a lifetime.
New technology and gentle hands by both the technicians and the dentist now make a visit to their offices as pain free as possible. My tooth is out, and I am making plans to go back for the next removal. My fear is subsiding, and I found my fear was worse than the visit. But it is hard to remove those memories of long ago from my mind.
Recently, I asked my readers for devastating words said to them at some time in their lives that stuck in their thoughts and hearts forever. I was doing research for a Lenten service I wanted to write. My readers responded, and my heart broke as I read some of the unkind and thoughtless words that were left glued inside their mind.
Here are a few examples:
• I will never forgive you.
• “You’re fat, dumb and ugly.”
• “How stupid are you to adopt disabled children? You’d return any other defective merchandise.”
• “You can’t carry a tune. Your voice is terrible.”
• “I’m going to send you home in a body bag.”
These were just a few of the responses I received. Words hurt just as much, if not more than the dentist drill of my childhood. My fear of the dentist didn’t shape my life, only the care of my teeth. Words said in the heat of anger or to wound can twist someone’s life. Kind words in the future do not seem to wipe out the memories of the past cruelties.
Of these five examples, one person did not sing in public or in a choir again. One, because they felt they were too ugly and dumb, didn’t have the confidence to go on to nursing school. And I can’t even respond to how not being forgiven or your life being threatened would change the way one lives. Luckily the person who was taunted for adopting disabled children did not listen but hurt for the children in their care who were ridiculed.
The words I remember the most from my teen years were when a boy told me I was the ugliest girl he had ever seen. I remember that boy, but luckily I had enough support that I could move on in my life. To this day, I remember that boy because of his cruel words. I always wonder what words I might have said that are remembered by someone, and I hope they have forgiven me for them. But I know they aren’t forgotten. Forgiveness and forgetting are two different things.
There is an old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt.” I’d like to change that saying to “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can break my heart.”