Long, long ago there was a Disney movie called “Mary Poppins” where as a youth I was introduced to my fascination with words because the movie shared with us how many words are nonsensical. Does anyone remember “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”? It didn’t mean anything yet we loved the way it was sung and how it rolled off our young tongues.
I still have a fascination with words and as I listen to conversations around me I am certain so many of them are “superfluous”. Don’t know what that means? Well just to give you a topical touch…..extra, unnecessary, redundant, not required…..get the picture? I am not hyper critical of conversations but I am in a place where I am listening as best I can because it’s important. Unfortunately so much of what I hear is not important and it can be excruciating to stand still long enough to let the thought be expressed; inwardly I consider these moments “tiny talk”.
I desire with all that I am to hear what is in a person’s heart. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could drop our own superfluous conversations and start having chats that actually matter to us? Knowing who I am, being a master of tiny talk, there is a full understanding of how challenging a thought this is but still I must pose it. Our time matters…..so should our words.
“Haven’t heard from you” read the letter and I felt bad. I had used my ability, time and voice to lift a friend up for a long while but then I hit my own bad spot and suddenly my tools found themselves idle. No one was responsible for these tools sitting unused except me. At this moment I didn’t feel my voice could even be heard let alone used to lift up friends.
A couple weeks went by and another letter came reading, “did I say something wrong?”, again I felt bad but I didn’t pick up my tools even then. “What did I have to say right now that would be of any value?” I thought. I let the letter get laid beneath a book on my desk.
Only a week went by this time and another letter arrived. This one was written in blunt language with pointed love, “I know you my friend, something’s wrong so you better just tell me.” I had been called out in truth. It was time to sit down and write again….now where to begin?
I have a play room in my mind. I call it the “bounce house” since that’s where most of those useless but funny thoughts get tossed around until they either come to fruition with an article, something I can joke with my husband about or else they simply make their way about the room to finally just be done with like a deflated ball.
I have found a certain irritation lately as my bounce house has been filled with thoughts that are anything but funny. When I came to play, the room was so crowded I couldn’t even go inside. Time for a plan of action. I have my stack of cds loaded with hip hop and dance tunes that celebrate life, I have a tank of gas and I have no place to be for a while. It’s time to find my way out to the lake and start emptying my bounce house of all seriousness until there is room again to play.
It was my turn in line to be seated for this wild ride. This rollercoaster was said to be the smoothest around. All I had to do was strap in and hold tight no matter the high points, loops or dips. The sharp turns were famous for keeping me from growing weary of experiences. I couldn’t wait to get on and once it started, I had to admit…I now knew why they called it “smoothly wild”!
The gravel pathway had large cracks of water erosion all along where the pine trees give their shade. As I made my way along this area I was careful not to get too close to these edges for fear of dumping a shoe into the water. I stayed on the safer areas where the gravel was sure and packed down tightly. Each step I took was one made with confidence because the areas I chose for my footing were not loose with gravel.
The choices I am making in my daily walk matter this much. When I am not careful to step with confident footing, my steps slip more and I become less sure of my way. Without purpose to care which direction I am heading I can be washed away in a ditch of erosion. This is especially true if I am not mindful of my thoughts.
Sitting still in the middle of a storm is new for me. I liken my moment in time to trying to find the eye of a tornado. Once I push through the rushing funnel of winds trying to carry me away, I start to hear again. My feet steady themselves upon the ground beneath me and I plant myself to remain in this centered place.
My eyes can glimpse the debris of life swirling in the dark clouds around me. I am not tempted to reach out and grab any of it. Now is the time to let go of clutter I had collected. I look up and all I can see is the continued promise of clear skies and great peace.
The clouds thickened overhead and covered distant mountains so my vision was limited to the valley floors. Even then I couldn’t clearly make out all the suburbs. It had been a long time since I had been up this way and I remembered the family of deer I had seen here last spring. Looking around it was obvious they still came to this grassy area to lay down for rest.
I sat next to my best friend and husband, sharing this peaceful moment. I wanted to linger until my heart had nothing more to offer. An older guy with a camera was somewhere nearby but he was discreetly keeping his distance, affording us some privacy for conversation.
We didn’t need to speak too much. Our daily minutia didn’t belong here. We spoke at length to our heavenly Father, in awe of His beauty, mercy and power. The rain was going to be back again soon, it was time to get up and move on.
I had been on my feet only moments before and even now I was still standing in my physical body, but inwardly the unexpected punch of words had knocked me down. I had no words to speak back, and they weren’t ready to be received in this moment had I offered any. The blow was surprising but I brushed myself off quickly and replanted my spiritual feet. I was in a fight and I knew it but there was no way I was going down a second time.
Strategy came quickly, say nothing to agree with my enemy’s voice. I heard him circling around me and trying to poke at me to see where I was weak. This was a new move for him but not one I couldn’t recognize in a matter of moments. I could hear his pathetic whining longing to draw me into making a wrong move. I firmly held my place, keeping my gloves ever ready, my eyes and ears wary for his next move. The taunts he brought no longer swayed me to drop my arms in discouragement. In the background I heard the bell ring, this round I had won!
Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble
We had to hit the store late this evening and as I hung out in the background, our cashier started to spill everything she knew about the woman and child who had just left her line. I couldn’t help but watch her intently while she talked so knowledgably about this person who was clearly not family. She made eye contact with us as she talked but not once did she reveal anything of herself, it was all things she knew about others.
I have become more cautious in my chatter these days but not because I don’t know things about others. My caution is in respecting the lives that are lived around me, and which I am so often blessed to be a part of. Something about my spilling every detail of their personal lives would seem to dishonor knowing them at all.
Pro 2:11 Discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you
My job deals with other people’s money and a whole lot of customer service. For all my good intentions I can be pushed too far by the relentless in nature. Some days I feel like a stone being polished by the grit and sandiness of others and it’s all I can do to stand fast. My confession however are the moments I “snap” under the duress. In time’s past my mouth would have let fly with all kinds of obscenities and nowadays I tend to just be firm and forthright. If I start to boil too much, that’s the time I take a drive turning up the stereo as loud as possible so I can’t possibly hear a phone ring.
I still have much to ponder about the verse which talks about us being living stones. My rough rock has too many moments when I just want to roll right over some people! Yeah, I’m still a work in progress.
1 Pet 2:5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ