Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Foam Blocks and Kind Words

One of my favorite memories of childhood was gymnastics after school with my second grade, best friend Kaila. Our moms would take turns picking us up after school and it would usually involve a stop for ice-cream and fries and then our gymnastics class. The gym was filled with that chalky smell and was covered with, at least for me, a child's personal dream of an obstacle course. It had rings, beams, bars and a trampoline. 

The other day I was talking to my sister on the phone and she was telling me about something she was feeling shame about it. My sister is very visual so when she starts to squint her eyes I know she is off frolicking in a vineyard or swimming with dolphins somewhere exotic. However via text or the phone it's much harder to tell. My sister explained to me that with each text I sent her she could see herself on a balance beam and falling off onto those foam blocks. I thought the picture was beautiful because it wasn't about her staying on the balance beam and performing perfectly. What was highlighted was the soft fall, a fall into squishy, foam blocks that break any hard fall. 

This made me think about our words and how important it is that our words are kind. Proverbs 16 tells us that "Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul, and healthy for the body" It's crazy to think that our words can create a soft landing for people or a hard and disastrous landing for people. In life everyone seems to be walking on their own balance beam whether it be their career, family pressure, relationship conflict, or body image stressors. 

Everyone is trying to perform well and is stressing about it. When people "fall", whether that be a mistake, a loss, or a tragedy our words can either be soft foam blocks or they can be sharp jagged rocks. No one wants to fall on that! The pictures of crocodiles under a tight rope or a balance beam always come to mind because of all those silly cartoons I used to watch growing up or perhaps it was just Rescuers Down Under. Life is complicated and hard enough as it is, and if our words are only making the fall worse, how sad is that!

We have such a beautiful opportunity to bring life to others by our kind words. I am glad I was able to create a soft landing for my sister with my words. I'm grateful my words were kind and not shame inducing. However this is not always the case. Sometimes my words are not as kind. Sometimes people land on sharp, poky rocks after I've had my share of ‘word rage’. And more often than not, my words are not kind to myself. I am hard on myself. I am judging, comparing and falling into a shame cycle with my words. Instead of creating a soft landing for myself filled with self-care and love, I create a cold and harsh environment for myself where I feel isolated and scared. Instead of listening to God’s deep echos to my soul reminding me I am enough, I try to prove why I’m not. We probably could all afford to be more kind with our words to ourselves and others. Who doesn’t like playing with foam blocks anyway?

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