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Posts Tagged ‘power of words’

Shame has no place in lives covered by His grace.

The girl’s comment penetrated deep. My eyes darted to and fro as I shoved my large, 1980’s glasses up the bridge of my nose. Brushing a loose strand of my Dorothy Hamill wedge into place, I turned away from the knowing looks of the other children and heat burned the tips of my ears.

Your parents had to get married.

Lifting unsteady fingers, I gnawed at an already uneven nail and dipped my head in the presence of the other children. The lunch line seemed dauntingly long as the other little girl snorted and turned back to her tittering group of friends.

I wore embarrassment and shame as much as I did the pair of yellow gaberdine slacks with grass-stained knees and turtleneck shirt the rest of the day. How did people know I was the unplanned result of teenaged impulse? 

Later, mother assured me, “You were never a mistake.” Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what  others thought. I imagined parents of my childhood friends murmuring…judging…accusing. Schoolmates poking fun at the child who forced a shotgun wedding.

I felt responsible. Embarrassed. Almost apologetic. Why? Because I existed. I breathed air that might have belonged to another, worthier person. The heaviness of guilt settled large and unmoving–a burden too heavy for an unequipped child.

I carried the unnecessary weight of shame for years, keeping it hidden as I moved into young adulthood where I hid behind laughter and educational attainment. Carefully put together outfits and a confident stride.

Still, shame resided in the hidden corners of my heart. Mocking. Accusing. Indicting.

You’re still just a girl with a broken past. If only they knew the truth about you; who you really are.

Scripture tells of a woman who knew the pain of shame. For twelve long years she’d lived as a social outcast, desperately seeking a cure from the hemorrhaging that tore up her insides as effectively as it did her reputation. Women were considered unclean when they bled and she couldn’t help cringing at the whispered comments and dismissive glances.

This woman must be a terrible sinner for God to have cursed her this way. It’s her fault. Women like her are worth less than nothing.

But, she’d heard of the man they called Jesus. His miracles. His compassion. His love. Could he possibly set her free from the burden of her shame? They said he’d be returning by boat to Galilee today. Gathering her things, the woman hurried out the door before she changed her mind.

Not far from home, she noticed a crowd of men, women, and children jostling one another in their attempts to get closer to the man near the front, the one they called Rabbi. Slipping into the fray, she stretched out a shaking hand–certain that just touching the Nazarene would make her whole again.

It was a mere whisper of a touch; the fabric of his cloak barely skimming the tips of her fingers, but Jesus stopped short. “Who touched me?” he questioned. For so long she’d tried to go unnoticed. To hide behind her timidity. This moment, though, required more.

Kneeling at his feet, she confessed to touching him. To trusting him for healing. To the pain she’d suffered and the hope she now had. Her shame was gone. Because of him it had been eradicated. Eternally terminated.

Perhaps you, too, struggle with the burden of shame. Some may tuck it carefully behind their introversion or extroversion while others hide behind parenting accomplishments and bumper stickers proclaiming their child a straight-A student. More than a few of us hide behind happy, shiny Facebook posts, successful careers, or the right house in the right neighborhood.

But, Friend, God’s daughters can come out of hiding and step into his presence. We can claim the promises of scripture, knowing that his death and resurrection have cleansed us. Freed us. Healed us.

[Tweet “Shame has no place in lives covered by his grace.#powerofgrace#freedominChrist”].

 

Blessings,                                                                                                                                          Tammy

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His brow wrinkled in concern, Pastor Strutz revealed the results of our pre-marital personality tests. For every crest marked on my chart, Dave had a trough. If one area was my weakness, it was his strength. We were living proof of the old saying, “opposites attract”.

“Your differences could be a good thing…or not. How are you at communicating?”
“Oh, we’re great communicators,” I said.

Fast forward four months.  Dave and I had set up house in our first apartment–which was strategically located next to the railroad tracks.  (The managers conveniently forgot to tell us that when we signed the lease.)  Our decor was an eclectic mix of college-aged bachelor pad, family hand-me-downs, and bargain friendly purchases made on a newlywed budget.  Imagine a flag on one wall, a large wolf photo on the other, and a blue-and-white striped sofa in the middle of the living room.

One day when I was rearranging our wall hangings, Dave’s favorite framed piece of art–a work signed by the artist– slipped through my fingers.    Shards of glass lay scattered about my feet.  The frame was bent.  What have I done?  Dave’s going to be so upset.  I spent the rest of the afternoon dreading the moment of my husband’s arrival; imagining the worst.

At the sound of my husband’s footsteps I opened the door, offered a perfunctory kiss, and hurried to the laundromat below.  After folding a load or two of my own laundry–and offering to wash a neighbor’s darks–I finally made way back to our tiny home.

“I broke the picture.  I dropped it and now it’s ruined.”  The words sprang from my mouth as quickly as the tears spilled onto my cheeks.  “Is that what you’re upset about?  A picture?”  And, instead of being upset, my husband laughed.  A warm, I-love-you, it’s-not-a-problem sort of laugh. “We’ll just have it reframed, babe.”  “Oh, okay.”  Sniffle.  Sniffle.

Great at communicating?  Not me.

Even now, I sometimes struggle to express my feelings well.  I prefer sweeping things under the proverbial carpet.  But, my wonderful husband–being my opposite–thinks communication is great for a marriage.  And, he’s right.  No, I’ll never be as skilled a communicator as Dave, but I have learned a lot about  it through our years together.  Pastor Strutz might even be surprised to know our differences have been a good thing  (most of the time).

Three Important Communication Pointers

  • Pray together.  It’s tough to be angry if you are praying with and for each other.
  • Listen without interrupting.  This includes controlling your inner-monlogue–don’t prepare a rebuttal while you pause to “listen”.
  • Avoid trigger words.  Words like always and never are especially inflammatory when they’re attached to the word you.

What are your best communication tips?  Why not share them with us?

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart  be pleasing in your sight,  O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:13-14

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More often than not, my mornings consist of reminders, reprimands, and rushing.  Did you pack your jacket?  Change that attitude, little mister.  If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.  Then, my children scramble out the of the car–backpacks slung across their tiny shoulders.  I won’t see them again until the sound of the bell sends them rushing out of the building–laughing and ready for a snack.

As I pull away, I’m consumed by “mommy guilt”.  Did I remember to tell them I love them?  Were my words more than just directives or critiques?  Will they know they’re prayed for today?  Did I say anything nice?

There are times the guilt is well-earned.  Sometimes my words fail to build up my children, husband, friends, or even strangers I encounter.  As Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb,  sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Tomorrow–whether I’m in the midst of the morning rush, the dinner hour, or the bedtime routine–I’m going to slow down enough to remind those around me of how important they are to me.  I’ll tell them they are a precious gift in this life.

Then, I’ll let the “mommy guilt” go–at least for the day.

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I can imagine the perfect woman for my husband–and she is not me.  Now, I’m not suggesting I would rather Dave be married to someone else.  What I am saying is that if I were his best friend, parent, or sibling I would have expected him to marry someone unlike me.

Dave’s perfect wife  would  eagerly anticipate the next shared hike together, certain she could conquer the ragged terrain of any mountain.  This someone would engage in political debates, enjoy running in marathons, and read Time magazine.

Instead Dave chose a woman who’s afraid of heights, rarely reveals her political affiliation, and prefers a relaxing walk on the beach to the rush of endorphins at the end of a five-mile run.  And my favorite reading material?  Think Jane Eyre and Anna Karenina.  I don’t remember when I read Time last.

But, Dave didn’t want perfect–he wanted me.  And, after all of our years together, he still does.  The remarkable part of all this is Dave is more aware of my flaws, faults, and foibles than during the early years of our marriage.  He sees me clearly.

My dislike for closet doors haphazardly left open?  Dave hears about it regularly.  The temper that flares when we disagree about discipline?  He’s been an object of that anger.  My high-maintenance food ordering habits?  If the avocado is fresh than I’ll have the southwestern burger, if not then I’d like the patty melt with the onion straws on the side but no cheese.  Yes, Dave is aware of this hang-up.  (He says I’m discerning; not picky.)

Despite knowing me as intimately as he does, Dave loves me all the more.  What, then, is principle number three?  Accept your husband for who he is.  You cannot change him.  When you are convinced your husband needs to change, begin praying the Lord will change you.

3 Ways to Demonstrate Acceptance Toward Your Husband

  • Talking Trash–Have you been around a group of women lately?  Don’t join their “My Husband is an Idiot Club”.  Honor him with words of affirmation–even when he isn’t nearby.

             Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others upEphesians 4:29

  • Point of Reference–Extend grace and mercy to the husband you have pledged to love.

             Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. Ephesians 5:21

  • Practically Speaking-  Just put the lid down yourself.  He won’t mind and it will make you happy!

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