I was 11 and finally starting to accept that, although Emma emerged into the world needy and attention-recquiring, she was actually pretty darn adorable. I was convinced, if anyone could, I could get her to talk, so I kept repeating my name over and over again, in slow motion, right in front of her little round ginger head. Eventually, she got it. Only, for her, “getting it” meant calling me, “Dah-nuh.” Close enough, Em.
Memorized every preposition in the Enlgish language to the tune of “Yankee Doodle” for a No-Homework pass in Mrs. Katehis’ Language Arts class. Needless to say, my parents heard a lot of, “About, above, across, after, against, among, around, at, before, behind, beside, between, beyond, by, down…”
Coyishly living out Judy Blume’s touted coming-of-age novel, Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret. I also refer to this year of my life as my brief “hood” phase. I said things like “a’ight” in AIM conversations (where my screenname was FubuBooBoo55) and referred to myself as a “baller” in, regrettably, a totally serious way.
Got made fun of for clogging the toilet at Bible camp. Everything else that happened this year was a giant blur. Next.
Freshman year of high school. Received three detentions for being scared enough to leave school during a bomb scare. I also think this was maybe the first year I felt self-concious about my appearance. When you’re a ripe (and notably undeveloped) 14-year old walking aroud with seniors who are 17-years old and legitimate women, the hallways of a high school can be staunchly intimidating place. (It’s possible my confidence was also knocked by the Great Toilet Clogging Incident of 20013.) I think I probably did a lot of backtracking these days. Probably said a ton of, “Totally. I mean, what I really meant was…” when met with any sort of opposition to an opinion. There was probably a very short list of statements I wouldn’t restructure once questioned just to sound cool.
I must’ve asked the question, “If you could be any fruit in the whole numerical alphabet, what fruit would you be?” at least 60,000 times in a span of these two years. There is a story behind this, friends. One day, and one day soon, I promise I will tell you, but for now, just enjoy how much sense this doesn’t make.
I am fairly certain that everything I said during this period of my life was pretentious and rather “know-it-all” of me. I was 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22-years old during these five years and looking back, I was rather inapproachable when it came to giving me advice, gracefully correcting me or offering me any form of feedback that indicated I could be doing something better. I probably had a lot of favorite phrases during this time – some of which were likely even truth-filled and wise in their own right, but the delivery was lacking all things humble.
A ton of, “Why God?” and “I feel like the rug’s been pulled out from undeneath me.” These were things I said over and over again. Out loud in prayer and to friends. It was all I could muster. But do you know something? I was met with grace and love and peace right smack in the middle of the chaos and looking back, I wouldn’t change a single thing. (You can read more about this here.)
It’s funny how that happens, right? How when we’re going through something, our speech can sometimes reflect such hurt and brokenness – so much so that the words of admission almost taste sour coming off your tongue? The truth is that it’s only through these honest(and sometimes sour) expressions of vulnerability where we can begin to be healed.
Most-used by an embarassing landslide? Sentences that usually start or end with “I’m sorry.” Because sometimes, my words cut and my actions hurt. Recently, I’ve been learning that sometimes the most mature and wise thing you can do is humble yourself with an apology. To a friend, to a co-worker, to your mom or dad or sister or brother. To anyone.
I’ve learned that saying I’m sorry doesn’t mean I’m weak or that I’ve lost or that I can’t find my way again. Apologizing means you care enough about the other party to admit your short-comings and take the first step toward rebuilding that which your words or actions started to tear down.
Even when humble pie tastes like a rotting tomato covered in maple syrup and ranch dressing, say sorry. The aftertaste isn’t as bad as you think.
What are some of your staple statements?
What have some of your most-used words and phrases taught you about yourself and your beliefs?
How can we challenge ourselves to gracefully speak words that are honest and authentic?
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