Shock waves went through my entire body! “Did I say that?” Oh, dear God, how could I have been so foolish? How could I have said that? My face flushed red and my stomach ached as I swallowed with a gulp as the severity of my words rang in my ears.
But what exactly had I meant? What did I actually say? My mind went completely blank as the gravity of whatever was said ricocheted inside my head. I couldn’t think straight and my heart pounded loudly in my chest.
I wanted to flee and I felt trapped at the same time.
How many countless times in my lifetime have I had to suffer my spoken words? I even pride myself in being patient and long suffering and somehow think that means careful and full of wisdom when to not speak. I even carefully prize myself in crafting generous and grace filled sentences and then something like that slips off my tongue! Oh dear Lord please be merciful to me!
I went to my closet and got into Child’s Pose on the floor and pleaded with God to soften the heart of the person who received my judgment.
How is it that words of life, or what I intend to be life giving, somehow become words of death?
As I kept my forehead on the floor I pleaded with the “Word”, Jesus, to boldly stand in my way. I pleaded that my presence and heart would mellow the harsh words and by His commendation turn my words to be a fragrance of life. The foolishness of my prayer felt like asking for a pig to be pretty by applying lipstick. But I have known God to turn darkness into light. In the mystery of His love, words that seemed at first cruel could actually be transformed into a hope, a desire, a longing for change.
I have been on the receiving side of words that were hurled in unexpected volleys. In some of those interactions, it actually took almost two decades before I received them and could hear them without nausea-induced fury. I regret that it took me so many years to trust the speaker of those words. But what was once the stench of death could finally be smelled as the fragrance of life. Yes, life and healing and surrender. How had we made our way through such tangled, thorny paths?
I stood up in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). I felt my feet strong and sturdy on the floor. I tilted my head back and arched my back with arms uplifted. I breathed in deeply and spoke aloud the words, “Help Jesus!” I put my folded hands to my “third eye” and breathed out peace and goodness. I stood in Samasthiti (Equal Standing) and quietly breathed in and out for many minutes.
Jesus, you are the Word and every word that has ever been spoken will one day bow before you. Every knee will bow when you return. Every thing and every one will bow and praise you. I stood straight and trusted the Word. My words at best are never enough. My words at worst, are like debris that falls out of the sky. My words, harmful and ill, kind and life-giving must bow before the Word, if any good is to come.
I am made in His image and my being brings praise to my heavenly Father. Just as Mt. Rainier is a testament to God’s glory, so it is true for me. I too, just by being me, testify to God’s glory. My very being bears witness to His awesome glory. I will not fear even when my words are like lava that melts forests and causes havoc. I will trust that the words that I spoke will be used for good. If not today, then some day.
I left my closet and walked downstairs. I called out my husband’s name and asked how he was? Could we talk more? I was now ready, but was he? There is nothing so severe that a Savior can’t restore. And so, my heart was calm and I went to sit with him and see how he was with what I had said. His eyes were soft and we touched foreheads together and our arms gradually entwined each other. And we began to do the hard, complicated work of turning the words of death to life.
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of almost 40 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living! bs
Beautiful. Thank you! I so long for a relationship in which I have the ability to make mistakes and be a foolish, real, vulnerable woman who can sit with a husband and receive the life giving forgiveness that turns death into life. My heart is willing but the fear of not being perfect and instead being shamed and abandoned is HUGE! Thank you for the glimpse into what it looks like.
Bless you. Your fear of not being shamed and abandoned hurts me as I type this this morning! And I hope you will continue to be freed from shame and abandonment. I am only beginning to feel less fear of not being perfect. It has been a lifelong struggle that I hardly knew that I had it since I believe I absorbed a lot of perfectionism from my mother. It has been like I have had a “mean friend” that always scorned my mistakes! I am just now beginning to shed fear of man (and woman!) and be a bit riskier in what I say and do. I hope this for you too…. By the way, your are stunningly beautiful.
Becky, thanks for replying. Your words mean a lot to me. You and your husband have been a model for a lot of my healing. I always look at your picture and think you are stunningly beautiful as well. It is funny how we can see each other’s beauty so much more clearly than we can ever see our own. Thank you for your vulnerable heart in writing. I feel like so much healing is shared by your words. Happy Wednesday!
“My words, harmful and ill, kind and life-giving must bow before the Word, if any good is to come.” Thank you for writing such an honest account of what we’ve all done and will continue to do as long as we’re alive – use our words to build up and bless, or to curse. I loved that did yoga poses – while assessing your heart and laying it all at Jesus’s feet. Thank you for sharing.
Barbara, thank you for your reply. I am beginning to grasp how important it is to be in my body at all times. Embodiment helps me attune to body, soul and spirit and heart. I believe praying as I was moving helped me remember that God is present and cares and rescues the unworthy often. That was me! Jesus came and my husband and I worked through the muck with us.
What a beautiful start to my day!!! So much here… Oh His redeeming love that never ever tires of taking all things… and making beauty from ashes… even from our tongues that set the a forest on fire… and isn’t just like God… fire can bring healing to the land… or great harm… even when it’s beginning is harm… redemption brings draws out the good!!!
And Mt Rainer… oh the glory… one weekend when at the cohort… Mt Rainer was in full view … it made me sit in awe… stunned by it’s majesty… and oh how I long to live in awe of one another … those created by and in the image of God. I will carry this in my heart today… Mt Rainer… as a sign post to live in awe in the presence of another!!!! Thanks Becky… your words always stretch my heart!!!!
Ro, thank you for your words. Yes…we get distracted with worries and work and deeds and forget the glory of our own humanity and others. The reality that death comes like a thief in the night….humbles me and elevates each person’s life I encounter. Your words stretch my heart too!
Thank you for blending the body work with the humility of naming the harm. That is a gift to me. I will try it as I practice.
You are welcome! I think it is a mystery how we are embodied in a body and soul and spirit as well!!!
Hi there Becky,
SO. that’s how that works? Never have been good at conflict resolution. I used to think if we had a conflict our marriage was done for. Avoiding conflict by having no opinions was one avoidance technique. I know, I may appear to have a stronger voice than I do. Pete actually will say he likes it when I push back, but I’m a wimp too worried most times to risk the chance he’ll be mad at me…. afraid our relationship will fracture under the disagreement. As I write this I think it must look silly, especially after all these years of marriage AND walking with Jesus. Maybe your clear example of how this can work and the reliance of the Holy Spirit’s on going work in us and others around us will birth a new confidence and courage to experiment more with my voice. Thank you for your thoughtful and tender words, Jesus is not finished with me yet, and reading His word and yours may be affecting substantial changes in me.
I love your child’s pose prayer posture. I haven’t prayed that way often enough. Thank you for sharing so openly. By the way, I’ve been loving your book. I’ve been savoring it, reading and re reading some chapters, not wanting to come to the end of it. Down the road I’ll give you more thorough feed back. I’m certain many women are being blessed by it.
Love to you and Dan! Laura