Over a decade ago, as a late 20-something and first-time pastor’s wife, I sat in a room full of crafting and scrapbooking late 30-somethings at a friend’s home. The chatter quickly turned to the latest hair-coloring or nail-doing experience with advice and suggestions hanging in the air between us. At the time, I neither colored my hair nor had my nails done.
I stated clearly and boldly that I would NEVER color my hair and that I would NEVER pay someone to paint my nails.
Several years after that fun evening filled with laughter and my judgmental attitude, I discovered that having someone paint my nails helped me not to pick at the skin around my nails. I had (finally) been properly diagnosed with bipolar tendencies and placed on medication. The huz and I had long known that the skin-picking was a tell-tale sign of something being “off” in me, but I struggled to stop. The kind ladies at the nail shop clipped away the straggling pieces of skin and transformed my fingers from disfigured to beautiful.
So much for NEVER paying someone to paint my nails…
As I passed my mid-30s into my late 30s, I noticed more and more grey in my typically deep brown hair. As someone who others had mistaken for the nanny of my own children a decade earlier, I enjoyed the age-centering feeling the silver strands gave me initially. As time went on, though, I started to notice that some of the strands were dull rather than the vibrant silver that I knew would come in another decade. My dear stylist suggested a little layering of color to ease me into the next decade or so. Every two to six months, I have her add another layer of blending, and it is fun. Even though I do not want all of my silver to go away, I love the vibrant feeling I have leaving her place.
So much for NEVER coloring my hair….
This blog has been quiet for several months – over six to be more exact – and there are several reasons for that. I would love to say that “being busy” is the main reason, but that is just an excuse that I allow to rule my actions. In reality, I think I gave up my voice – that style of thinking and writing that I have relied upon to communicate my deep soul thoughts. When I started writing a blog a day in August 2011, I started to find my voice again. I found a rhythm, and I thought, “I will NEVER stop writing.”
And then I did. The blog went silent.
I do not think that there is anything wrong with the fact that I have not written for a while. For ten weeks of that silence, I compiled others’ voices (and little bit of my own) into a project for Village Creek Bible Camp. The compilation of voices all focusing on providing a daily devotional thought to anyone who would buy the book is – next to my marriage and raising two wonderful children – the project that has given me the most life. Ever. I was seriously overwhelmed by nearly thirty others giving their time, energy, and talent to a project that was born from a conversation.
So…what is wrong with NEVER?
The social media world bombards us with information about much bigger NEVERs than hair-coloring or not blogging. In our efforts to share our deep beliefs on all points on a given spectrum, we often reach a point where we say things that sound a lot like NEVER. And then those NEVERs start to create walls between us, and our dialogue stops as we pick up our stones ready to throw them toward the words on the “other side.”
Before we say NEVER, we might need to take inventory of our lives and our purpose.
The words on the other side of where we stand have people in front of them. In the same way that I let a stream of judgment flow onto my friend about hair and nails, we cover others around us with our opposition to their words. We rarely consider the harm that this brings to our relationships. Even when do consider it, that rarely concerns us. We want to win the argument. We want to be right.
And we forget that there are relationships at stake.
Often our differences and judgments come from our life experiences. We engaged in some kind of NEVER earlier in our lives, and now we have to stand against that in order to reconcile or to redeem our past decisions. We have been hurt by the NEVER of someone else, and now we have to stand against that in order to heal.
Anger – judgment – does not lead to healing.
As an opinionated person, I am grateful that – in America – we all get to have our opinions. With the First Amendment in place, I can be wrong, you can be wrong, and we have to be civil about our disagreements. If our speech incites actions that would harm others, we lose that freedom. While most people would disagree with me on this, I am going to say that most of our current speech falls into this category. Rather than engaging in loving conversation that leads to greater understanding of others’ opinions, we lob hateful (and sometimes unrelated) grenades at the other side and then look surprised when an explosion occurs.
I have had a few thoughts bouncing around in my head that sound a lot like “that voice” that I used to have through writing blog posts. As I share those thoughts, I desire to always come to “the table” with love, consideration, and hope. In my latest “old age,” I know better than to say that “I would NEVER” (purposefully) be hurtful as I write. I do hope that I avoid hurtful speech, though, and would appreciate readers holding me to that.