This Proverb recently became very real to me during a situation at work. We had been having computer issues which frustrated me and instead of taking that frustration to God I took it out on a client. As soon as I got off the phone I heard this verse being read on the radio. Needless to say I printed the verse out and apologized to the client for the way I spoke to him.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1 NIV)
Now I have this verse displayed in my cubicle and I’m constantly looking at it for direction and as a reminder to myself not to speak harshly when I interact with someone. This just doesn’t apply in a work setting but in every setting we find ourselves including those times when we are alone with our thoughts. You know those times when you’ve had a bad day and you find yourself saying things like “you are so stupid”, “I can’t believe you did that”, “no one likes you”
I think as a general rule people try not to use brutal, harsh words when speaking to others but when it comes to our own self talk we are constantly stirring up anger within our souls. I’ve heard it said that hurt people hurt people and I think the first people we hurt is ourselves. I wonder what would happen if instead of harsh words we spoke gentle words first to ourselves and then to one another.
photo credit: Dane Vandeputte <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/77708494@N07/33852360863″>Mother’s Day Bloom</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
A while ago I overheard a conversation between three young women looking at something on their phones when one of them said “look at my future baby daddy, he is fine”. I continued through my day but I thought about how different things have become and how we as women have lowered our standards to accept less than what God has planned for us.
I remember when I was growing up most women didn’t aspire to just have a “baby daddy”. They aspired to have a husband to help them raise their children and I do understand that even in a marriage it doesn’t guarantee that the husband will be much help, but the point is they wanted to be married. They desired to have someone there to lean on when things got difficult. So where did we go wrong? Where did we lose our way so that some young girls feel that being a baby mama is the best that they can do? It hurts my heart to think that over the years we’ve given the impression that marriage is no longer something to be desired. Or that we, as liberated women, don’t need a man except for one thing and even that thing they don’t always do well. It grieves me because that’s how I used to think.
I craved companionship but depending on a man for anything wasn’t in my agenda. And I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. In junior high there were two guys who intentionally waited for me to come out of class so they could walk me to my next class…I saw them, said hello and kept on walking. It didn’t even dawn on me that they were trying to be nice and chivalrous. When I got older one of the guys I used to date picked me up to go walking around the lake and the entire time I kept complaining about how he didn’t do this or he didn’t do that and at one point he asked me why I couldn’t just enjoy the walk. I think back to how many other times I’ve come across as unapproachable or ungrateful because of my “strong black woman” attitude. That attitude that says “I don’t really need you” or “I can do bad all by myself” or “I need to take control of the situation to protect myself”.
And so I am apologizing. I am apologizing to the men in my life who have tried to be there for me in the past but I wouldn’t let them. I am apologizing to the women in my life that I’ve steered into thinking that men are disposable. I am apologizing to God for taking lightly the convent of marriage and for having skewed thinking when it comes to the relationships between men and women.
Over the last few years God has softened my heart to see that men and women are both strong but we are strong in different ways and those differences are to be celebrated and for that I am truly grateful. I’m starting to understand that being vulnerable and open to accept help doesn’t make me weak it makes me strong. After I saw War Room a few summers ago I started re-assessing my priorities in terms of a mate. I realize that a man who is leading his family while being led by God and who is desiring to please God is more beautiful than trying to hold onto a false sense of strength that I was never supposed to hold onto.
Neither should we play the damsel in distress or try to be someone that we’re not. If we start off any relationship under false pretenses eventually the real you is going to come out and that will only create unnecessary conflict. Being strong in God will allow you the ease to be vulnerable with others. This is something I’m learning and I’m finding my life so much more fuller because of it.
I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say that music has a way of speaking to our souls mainly because they tell our stories. They speak the words that we most often don’t know how to say or are afraid to say. Music just like words in a book can also transport us to another world.
I am an introvert my nature so for me those other worlds were my escape which made me feel depressed or anxious and it wasn’t always a healthy place for me to be but now when I feel myself wanting to escape from the things of this world I turn to Jesus. Turning to Jesus helps me face situations with grace and humility instead of burying my head in the sand. And as always music plays a huge part in that.
Right now these are the songs and/or albums that are speaking to my heart and I pray that they speak to your heart as well.
Cece Winans album Let Them Fall In Love; Austin French’s song Freedom Hymn; Crowder’s song All My Hope; Tauren Well’s song When We Pray; Aaron Cole’s song Right On Time; TobyMac’s song I Just Need U and Mandisa’s song Bleed The Same.
photo credit: Jan van der Wolf <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/23329645@N00/3255879580″>Background purple</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>