When Someone Says You Suck – Handling Criticism

Playground

photo copyright Fang Tong, all rights reserved

 

(A version of this piece originally appeared in Woman 2 Woman magazine. Click here to find out more or subscribe.)

The playground mantra repeats in my head: sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.

But I know it’s a lie.

Oh, the untamable tongue! James writes, “no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Gather, and with it we curse me, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing (3:8-10). And then, and I imagine with a shake of his head and a sigh states, “My brothers [and sisters] this should not be”.

All of us have suffered because the sharp cutting hacks of criticism. And to be honest, all of us have dished out words that are cruel and unkind.

So if criticism is intrinsic to all levels of social interaction, then it has certainly become endemic in recent times due to the rise of social media. Politicians and entertainers (any public figure) alike are subject to waves of public backlash constantly and the comments and tweets and statuses condemning them are ongoing, from all over the globe, at any hour of the day. And while we’re entitled to an opinion, we are also obligated, as Christians, to live by the power of the Spirit of Christ. Free-flung condemnation is not a fruit of the Spirit by any stretch.

Criticism that originates closer to home hits closer to home. When criticism arises from a spouse, family member, friend or superior at work the sting is sharper and the wound profound. The usual advice about “considering the source” or “just forget about it-they’re just jealous” doesn’t apply when the wounds come from nearby.

I can recall a teacher’s critical statements that I allowed to hang over me for years, subsequently informing my beliefs about myself and effectively influencing the course of my life.

I once had a close friend detach from me and then, months later, confront me with a notebook filled with pages filled with lists she’d made of my flaws. Her accusations were given, she said, to help me out. But, the relationship had already been severed, so the words just hurt. Immensely.

And any of us that grew up with siblings, neighborhood friends or classmates knows the cruelty of barbed words tossed about carelessly. I could retell many situations where criticism pained, polarized or prevented me from living in grace and confidence. I bet you can, too. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We can respond to criticism in such a way that harmful words are transformed into empowering statements that will grow our confidence, faith and make us more humble, empathetic people.

Today, I’ll  identify what I believe should be considered negative criticism  and how to identify it. In my next post, I will break down the following list and explain how to proactively turn negative criticism into positive growth.

Negative criticism, as opposed to constructive criticism, hits below the belt and leaves us gasping for breath and often reaching for justification or praise to counterbalance hurtful remark. Negative criticism immediately puts us into a position of defensiveness, backs us into a corner.

What exactly is negative criticism?

Negative criticism—

* Can come from a stranger or an intimate friend (or even yourself).

* Is rarely purely motivated by good intention.

* Comes out of a negative spirit, not a heartfelt endeavor to unify or uplift another.

* Is never entirely true.

* Is intended to hurt, defy, shut-up or otherwise crush the spirit or sap the strength of another.

* Is not “Christ-like” nor does it build up the members of his church.

* Is not fair or kind.

Often, my reaction to negative criticism goes like this: I get a bit out of breath, I get angry and indignant (How dare she? Who does he think he is?), then I malign their motives (Is she so insecure that she has to stoop to that?) or write them off (Wow, must suck to be you!) and then I call someone I know loves me and would never agree with my critic, I hear the soothing words of praise and eventually, after a few days (or months, what can I say, it hurt!) the massive airbag of criticism deployed in my face finally deflates into proper perspective and I can move on.

Sort of. Because when I react, I never really deal appropriately with the criticism and it festers in my soul like a splinter gathering puss (ew!) rather than a seed that can cause good growth.

A response plan empowers us to transform the splinter of negative criticism into seeds to plant into our minds and hearts that can grow and produce good things.

First, remember to be gentle with yourself.

You may want to respond like Christ and absorb the angry words flung at you with loads of grace, turning the other cheek and bearing the pain nobly. But, when the clods of criticism hit you in the face, you may find yourself abandoning the response plan and resorting to our human “flight or fight” tendency.

Forgive yourself. Grace yourself. And then, step back from the situation. Give yourself time and restored oxygen (after the crying/hyperventilating/stress-session) in your system, and think it through.

Second, consider the source, but from God’s eye view.

We don’t need to devalue our critic or blow them off entirely. When we remember to be gentle with ourselves we can be gentle with them, too. Proverbs 15:1 tells us “a gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare.” “I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness”, God says in Exodus 34:6. And don’t we want to be like him?

I usually take pen to paper and in my journal or notebook extricate the negative from my mind, putting all my thoughts on paper so I can get it out of my head and gain God’s perspective. (But by all means, DON’T mail a scathing response to your critic!)

Third, turn to the truth of God’s word.

Even a flippant, careless remark made in a mean spirit can pick away at our armor, eroding our confidence and weakening our faith. But God never talks stink about us. He’s always honest and addresses our real, human nature and our sin. He doesn’t want us to become enamored with our good qualities, yet he does want us to understand that however we’re wired, however weird and the wonderful our traits, he wired us on purpose just that way. He will be faithful to work his purpose in us. God can use even harsh criticism to gently draw us to him and lovingly reveal our need for him.

If your critic has left you floundering in insecurity, spend time in his word, and look for your truest self.

Until then, remember what God says about us, “We are God’s workmanship, his poem, his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10)…and so are our critics.

(All Scripture from New Living Translation unless otherwise noted.)

 

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I Am A Spiritual Misfit (a guestpost)

1972

“He brought me out into a spacious place;
 he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19

It might have been 1975. My dress was navy blue with full, white sleeves. It’s hem rested above my knee and my new, white stockings looked sharp and fresh (although a bit wrinkly at the knees) all the way down to my Mary-Jane shoes.

I was proud to stand beside my three older sisters for the pre-church photo. To match, to look like, to be like them was my highest aspiration. The sun made our eyes squint as we smiled for Daddy to snap the picture of us colored in blue and white and ready for church.

My new dress, sewn by my mom, was also 100% wool.

I itched. I squirmed. I scratched. I wriggled. All through Sunday School.

By the end of the hymn-singing in Big Church, I was about insane.

My fair, sensitive skin became inflamed and I had raw, red abrasions at all the seam lines, under my arms, along my torso and back. I didn’t want to go to children’s church. I wanted to go home, and take a bath and put on soft, not-scratchy jammies.

So sad that my blue dress failed me, I insisted that I was allergic to wool. I ran my hand over the skirt as it lay on my bed and wondered how something that seemed so soft could be so painful, how something I wanted so badly could be so wrong for me.

How did other people wear wool without reaction? Why did I have to be allergic? I really was sad, deeply disappointed, gipped.

That itchy wool dress is the best way I can describe my relationship with the church. Not Jesus, but his bride. Not God, but the institution.

*

For the rest of my Spiritual Misfit story, click here to read it at Michelle DeRusha’s blog. Michelle’s memoir, Spiritual Misfit, came out earlier this summer. You would love her signature humor and voice as she tells her story about how she came to fit in with Jesus. I’m honored to have the opportunity to share my story there.

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A New Normal, A Better View

We slurped angel hair pasta with meat sauce for dinner at about 8:30. The TV joined us because we’ve been watching old episodes of Chuck. It was Wednesday night, which meant that the boys needed to put out the garbage for early morning pick-up. The laundry is a bit stacked up, the floors need mopping and I started a grocery list.

All is normal at the Santos house.

And I couldn’t be happier about that.

All this normal. Well, it’s a dream come true for me.

photo, Gemmina Olmstead

Anyone who knows me, who’s read much of this blog, knows that three years ago, our normal was shocked, interrupted by a drunk driver. The accident was near-fatal and although our kids miraculously walked away from the wreckage, the impact left Angelo trapped behind the steering wheel with a broken fibula and me, well, broken, in a lot of ways. Somehow my leg lay flung and awkward on the dashboard. I was immobile as I sat oddly in the passenger seat, wondering why breathing was becoming so difficult and knowing that everything in my body screamed with pain, yet I was numb.

The story of those first few hours–and the following days–still brings chills to my arms, makes the hairs stand on end. The divine appointments, the prayers and heaven’s response are the light and sparkle, the constellation of miracles, upon my memory of the darkest night of our lives.

And if you’ve walked alongside us, or read through the pages of my therapy writing here on my blog, you know that about four days later, I began to breathe on my own without the aid of life support and journey toward full recovery.

As weeks crawled into months of painful night after night, as I faced another surgery to remove the titanium rod from my leg and have a bigger one rammed through my bone, as physical therapy became a part-time job and I progressed from hopping with a walker to taking steps with a cane, I would collapse onto the couch, tears streaming from the corners of my eyes and cry, “Will I ever be normal again? Will this really ever pass? Will my days ever cease to begin and end with pain?”

Oh, I needed some flickering light of hope on these weeknights that I fell on the couch spent from constant pain and the effort of just trying to be my kids’ mom.

Somehow “normal” had become an elusive dream, a gift floating just beyond my reach.

I will always be affected by the injuries. I trace my fingertips along the track-like scars running above my belly-button and down my leg. I am physically repaired but never what I once was. And my life has fallen into a rhythm that to the ear sounds normal, adagio. We have work and school and seasons and bills to pay and a lawn to mow. We were a happy, average family before August 14, 2011 and we are again.

But something syncopated and unexpected, beats below the surface.

Every day, thoughts of life, of the gift of my being here, even my daily murmurings about sweeping dog-hair (a problem with our gratuitously shedding corgis) and messy kiddos remind me that we almost didn’t have this normal life. And for all it’s average-ness on the surface, all this normal is a miracle.

Each and every day I have a mental conversation with God about the night I lay bare and broken and vulnerable in the back of an emergency vehicle preparing to exit this world even as the EMT worked furiously to save my life.

I had said my goodbyes in my mind, released my family, relinquished control, accepted that I was no longer able to breathe. Even dependent for help to breathe; how little control I actually possess.

In my mind, in my spirit, I moved toward heaven, And Jesus. No other name formed in my thoughts or upon my lips. Just Jesus, and me, and the hands of the trained medic injecting needles into my veins and insterting a tube down my throat, so he could breathe for me.

Oh, that you would breathe for me, God, I whisper now. That you would know I am, was, will be ready for eternity, but do you know, dear Jesus, how very hard it is to walk with both feet here, committed to life here when I was so close to seeing that beautiful shore. It is a “sweet by and by”, I know, because I was crossing and my soul longed to be in its rightful place with you.

Of course you do, Jesus. This tension, this longing to be engaged in life yet fully trusting God’s will and purpose for you, led you to the cross. You were carrying that cross in your spirit during all your years here. It’s silly of me to doubt that you understand.

And friends, I know this is not normal. I am not normal.

I am just an average girl, not a big world-changer, just me. But my scars only tell the beginning of the story.

My scars lead me, in ragged lines, to the reality that I was saved to live an ordinary life in the light of extraordinary grace.

 

I glimpsed the concept of eternity, just barely glimpsed it, and even now I can’t get through a day without longing for home.

But I have this rare and beautiful grace to be here: to cook meals and discipline my kids; to clean toilets and somehow sing broken praises to God in a room filled with normal folks; to study the Word and watch the news; to pray with and for others; to eat cookie dough and fresh peaches; to go through the workweek with Angelo and awaken on Saturday mornings to coffee and easy conversation; to work hard and have sore muscles; to receive and give and breathe in the scent of lavender in the garden.

And it all is tinged with the blood of my Savior, the giver of this normal life at the cost of extreme sacrifice.

When he broke bread, every single time, Jesus offered thanks to his Father.

Jesus was thankful for the most common, the most mundane of daily nourishment. I’m sure it stuck in his throat, tight from emotion, when he took mouthfuls of mundane because he understood the incredible gift of this life here on earth. Because he knew, and dying has taught me in ways living could not: that it is all gift. The here and now, the insurmountable suffering and indescribable joy and everything in between, the entire human experience is all gift, redeemed and pulsing with the life of God because he does the breathing for this planet. He does the breathing for me, for you.

It’s hard truth, this knowing that we have so much and so little control, that our every movement is an act of faith, that our only real hope is Jesus and our future is made certain only by his name.

And its this tension that pulls and twangs and pops below the hum of status quo and in syncopated beats and flashes leads us beyond normal to the beautiful shore.

I hear the waters lapping on the golden sand. I am ready to set sail.

There’s a land that is fairer than day,


And by faith we can see it afar;


For the Father waits over the way


To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by, 
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;


In the sweet by and by,
 We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

We shall sing on that beautiful shore


The melodious songs of the blessed;


And our spirits shall sorrow no more,


Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

In the sweet by and by,
 We shall meet on that beautiful shore;


In the sweet by and by, 
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

To our bountiful Father above,


We will offer our tribute of praise


For the glorious gift of His love


And the blessings that hallow our days.

In the sweet by and by,


We shall meet on that beautiful shore;


In the sweet by and by,
 We shall meet on that beautiful shore. {Sanford F. Bennet}

 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,

after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 

To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. {1 Peter 5:10-11}

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A BIG Fish Story {and dreaming of home}

wierenga_AtlasGirl_Mech-800x1232

A favorite writer of mine, and I must admit a soul-sister, has just released her memoir called Atlas Girl. It’s about home, and traveling, and ultimately finding the grace to be free wherever she may be. I’m telling a little travel story here, a BIG fish story actually, and linking up to Emily’s book blog. Thanks for reading about travel and home and grace here, friends. And might I nudge you over to Emily’s site? You will not be disappointed.
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Dawn on the Sea of Cortez

In a blink the yellow rim of the sun crested above the gray-indigo waters of the Sea of Cortez. At once, the monochromatic light that washed all things hazy recoiled and the morning dawned brilliant in the sun’s full-color light. It shimmered afire.

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I clicked on my camera’s button over and over, hoping for the perfect shot. Lowering my little point and shoot, I watched Venus hovering over the rising sun, just moments before it’s solitary white light gazed over the eastern horizon, but now her face, a wan reflection of the blazing sun, began its daily retreat into the blue sky and bright sunlight. She would return with the night.

I sat on the upper deck of the 33’ fishing boat, warm winds whipping my hair, and let the captain chase the sunrise and the sea and the big game fish we might catch. Morning broke free: of clouds, of trees or man-made structures blocking its radiant rising. The world awakened all blue and yellow and water and fire. The light dazzled and made the back of my eyes ache; yet I could not take my eyes off of the dawn. My family, all six of us, were on a boat with our captain and his mate, a father and son team named Javier. Yes, they were both Javier. Senior and Junior. Uno and dos. Javier y Javier. They were our seamen and guides for the day. The promise was the hope of reeling in a marlin or a dorado and later that night, a pre-birthday dinner of freshly caught seafood for Angelo’s 50th. Sure, it would be in six months, but we’d be slogging around in post-holiday snow by the time his birthday comes around, so today, June 20, would be his birthday present.

The captain pointed toward what I guessed to be northwest. “See the black on the horizon over there?” “Yes.” “That is the wind. Always over the Pacific. Very rough. We’ll stay here on the Sea of Cortez for awhile; see what we can catch on calmer waters. Who can see the wind? Apparently Javier and I can. I made a mental note that wind makes a sooty smudge on the ocean’s horizon, that there was a metaphor there.

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As the sun ascended, we witnessed sea life rising and cresting and breaching, too. Flying fish zoomed over the whitecaps. Manta Rays flung their triangular wings and performed cartwheels before diving back into the water. A sea turtle’s head bobbed like a bowling ball amidst the waves. The heat intensified and soon we were sailing not in the mild winds of dawn, but the hot, salt-sticky winds of a southern sea. Soon, two of our four kids were limp and noodly and feeling sick. I fought back the creeping nausea that crawled up the back of my neck. Our picnic lunch waited in the cooler in the hold below, but I suspected we’d not be taking luncheon deck-side.

Churning Waves and Hurling Breakfast

The waves grew and the boat lurched and leaped. Sea spray failed to be refreshing; instead I felt soft and sticky like a melting wad of saltwater taffy. I climbed down the stairs to care for the kids and the adventure of a day at sea slipped away. Rummaging for the Dramamine, I broke it in two and prayed for peaceful tummies as I served the caplet to my kids as a priest distributes communion wafers.

After hurling breakfast and last nights’ dinner, my daughter collapsed into sleep and rocked and rolled on her bench. My job now would be to keep the sun from frying her skin. I began to seriously wonder if this fishing adventure was really just a big mistake. I dreamed of the poolside, of people watching and frolicking in the chest-high water. I wanted land beneath my feet and book beside me on the table near a delightfully sweating mango daiquiri. I wanted to be anywhere but on the rollicking vessel that entrapped me. I swigged water from my bottle and closed my eyes.

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Suddenly Javier (junior) came bounding to the lower deck (and impressively quick considering his non-junior size). He attended to every reel, shoved his hand into the bait bucket and hooked a live fish (equal to the size of a nice Rainbow trout) and tossed the line out. Then I saw it. A black dorsal fin. A marlin.

We’d been trolling for what seemed like, well, eternity, and now the fish chased our bait. Like a toddler waiting for a turn to hold the fishing pole, we watched Javier expertly maneuver the gear and waited for our turn at fighting the big fish. No such luck. The marlin lost interest. Our captain listened on the radio for notices of schools and lucky catches of the morning and turned the boat toward another spot. My sick and sleeping daughter rolled over, I sought some shade to protect her, my husband stood on the railing, a huge smile on his face, literally loving every minute of this hellishly hot fishing fail.

My spirits plummeted to the unplumbed depths of the sea. Three times a marlin chased the lures only to turn away, denying us the sport, rejecting the live fish Javier tossed his way. I began to think tragic thoughts, recalling The Life of Pi and The Old Man and the Sea and Castaway.

I sat lolling listlessly. Even the pod of dolphin stopping by for a quick hello did little to raise my spirits. I longed for land, and began to dream not of lunch poolside or the resort, but of home, of my garden and my funky lake cabin, of my dishes and couch and my peonies in bloom. Javier Sr. pressed on toward the southeast and I willed him to turn portside (or whatever) and just get us back to the stinking marina.

I was done. Hot, so hot, and exhausted from trying not to vomit. I swallowed back bile and tears and when he finally turned toward Cabo San Lucas Marina, I nearly sobbed.

Reeling in a Really Big Fish

Just before we entered the no-fishing zone, we hit a school of dorado (mahi-mahi) and my family (except for me and my passed-out daughter) all participated in reeling in the glistening emerald-green fish that would be our dinner. Jazzed with new enthusiasm, and a mildly successful catch, we headed toward land. I climbed back up to my seat near the captain and he became chatty, relieved I think, that the tourists wouldn’t be returning to shore empty-handed.

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This tourist town with its sun and surf and lures of excursions and poolside entertainment was once the town of his youth. Born in Cabo, he fished even as he learned to write his name. He talked of the simple days before Cabo was a spring-break destination and time-share-sales racket. There was the rock diving near Lover’s Beach where the San Andreas fault line creates a deep underwater canyon, swimming at Playa Medano and the loitering at the marina and waiting for the tuna boats to bring the day’s haul to the cannery. He recalled swimming and seeing roosterfish and dorado and even tuna close-in, the sea full fish, the shore dotted with the facades of the tuna industry. Fishing was the livelihood—and the love the home and the heart—of the citizens of Cabo. He grew up on good ceviche and fresh tuna steaks and fish tacos. His face, nut brown and sun-soaked, smiled at the memory. “Now it’s this”, he said as he waved his hand toward the marina growing in our vision. “Not all bad, but not the same.”

Javier stayed in his hometown and raised his son on the open waters of the Sea of Cortez and among the waves of the Pacific,  the hope of a hooking a strong fighting fish, and a cerveza on the shore recounting the day’s adventure with friends. Javier, and his legacy, Javier Jr. Theirs was a life at home on the water, the salty brine crust familiar on their skin and glittering in their dark hair, good stories to tell on the docks and fresh dawn breaking on the sterling sea.

Wanderlust and Home

Home again, and in my garden, I pulled weeds easily from the rain-drenched soil.

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photo, Gemmina Olmstead

 

Swelling clouds had collected over the Pacific Ocean and unending winds gathered them into thunderstorms that beat rhythmically across the coastlands and over to my eastern Washington neighborhood. This morning a mild sun peeked through silvery clouds. I am familiar with this home, and being apart from it has refined my vision of my surroundings. Flying fish may dance across the open ocean, flicking saltwater from their bladelike fins, but my ears are filled with the buzzing of bees and the song of the goldfinch perched in the serviceberry bush, just beyond my reach. A waltzing swallowtail catches my eye and lands on the upper branch of the old-fashioned rose. The droning boat engines are mimicked this morning by the whirring lawnmower’s two-stroke motor. My bare legs brush against the lavender and the scent follows me as I complete my chores in the garden. A slug glistens in the sunshine and the wind is fresh-watered and cool. I am a tourist no more. Later this weekend, I might hook a wriggling worm and cast a line into the predictable waters of Loon Lake. We’ll have plenty of fish that got away, stories of the bass and the now, the marlin, that wouldn’t fall for our crafty plans to lure them from their watery homes.

We’ll have other vacations, sights to see and tourist traps, but I will remember Javier. His home, not his vacation, is Cabo San Lucas. He is as at home on a boat as in his house. He sleeps with the ocean air and open windows. During winter, when Angelo’s real fiftieth birthday comes around, Javier will be taking the tourists out and whales will breach and tourists will gasp. He’ll go home and he and Javier Jr. might recount the day and siesta in the shade of the stuccoed back stoop of his house. They’ll perhaps decide to change up the rigging a bit, and try the green jig tomorrow.

And I wonder if this is the home of my choosing or my making, or if it’s home by habit or accident? I wonder why do we vacation at all when everything I love, everyone I love, is here.

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My husband and kids and my books and my friends.

My chair by the fireplace and my varieties of columbine and campanula and cranesbill geranium.

My sisters and friends and church.

Lazy lake days and baseball games. Snow on Christmas and ringing in the New Year with our dear, old friends.

My morning coffee and cream.

It feels predictable most of the time, but home can be crazy (even miserable), too. We’ve been through enough to know that there are adventures to be had both here and in far-flung parts of the world, and that home is a presence in the heart more than a spot on a map. And that no matter where we are, the sun rises fresh each day blessing us to see by it’s light bits of God’s creation and pieces of home.

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The Secret of Insignificance

The secret of insignificance www.alyssasantos.com

Sometimes my insignificance astounds me. I am not a prodigy, a prophet, a prolific writer, a philosopher or a poet.

I sort the laundry. I plan meals. I run errands and I referee the same fights over and over again. I sigh.

This morning, while I sipped the first of the day’s coffee, I flipped through the anniversary publication we received in the mail from my daughter’s college. On every page appeared a smiling face and a list of accomplishments. One young man who graduated from Whitworth University (where my daughter is studying English Literature) is now on full scholarship at Harvard to pursue his doctorate. He’s investigating the shape of an electron and writing about it in science digests.

My understanding of an electron is and will always be what I learned in elementary school: an electron is the opposite of a proton; part of an atom (?). I had no idea that it’s shape even mattered!

Another young man and his wife started a non-profit to assist refugees. Another couple donated a few million dollars to an educational endowment.

I’m teaching my nine-year old how to play Go Fish.

I am the masses. I am the crowd. I am the drop in the proverbial bucket. And I don’t even have a bucket list.

I love words, but am too clunky, too uneducated, too realistic to consider myself a poet. I cook everyday, but I am no chef. I weed and water and plant flowers but I am no master gardener. I have studied the Bible for years, but I am not a theologian.

Do you have any twos?

Go Fish.

And I hear a silent reminder in my head: Remember yesterday when you shouted praises?

Oh, yes, I literally shouted praises.

My neighbor at the lake, an octogenarian, and I held a shouting conversation. She sat on her deck chair and I stood beside my unfinished in-the-middle-of-construction deck and we exchanged stories of the provision and miracles of God. 

“God is so good!” She yelled.

“Yes, he is.” I offered loudly. “And we notice his mercy when we are at our neediest, don’t we?”

We told stories of surgeries and doctors and medical miracles. We shouted about the amazing grace that brought us to sitting thirty feet apart, within shouting distance. We smiled at one another from our deck-top posts and enjoyed the fact we know the source of all our joy, all our breath, all our purpose.

My breath, my shouts, my praise, my piddle-y life is, in fact a poem, if I take God’s word to be true. I am, by the extension of creation, a part of the plan God has for this world, rubbing shoulders and shouting praises alongside others who use words and smiles and waves to connect across decks, desks, continents and the internet.

Small? Sure, I’m small. Insignificant? Perhaps not a world-changer. But I can choose to be here, really here to play Go Fish, to grasp hearts with another and shout praises to my one constant, God. 

Sometimes God’s significance astounds me.

And I stand in the floodlight of his import and I hear the whispering Spirit say, “I love you, little one”. And I reply, “I know it. I love you back.”

{Ephesians 3:20-21} “Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the Church through Jesus Christ.”

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