Have your thoughts ever entered a cycle where an event or passing word from another person starts growing like the bean seed in Jack in the Beanstalk? Eventually, the vine entangles your thoughts and your soul can’t seem to breathe. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been there. But so often, those vines prove so much larger in my head than in reality.
It reminds me of a funny story from the summer that involved my daughter and some major miscommunication.
Old Fashioned Mama
Before I tell you the story, you have to know that I take issue with my children saying certain words, like the b-word, the s-word, and the f-word. (You know–butt, stupid, and fart.)
Call me old-fashioned, a prude, or simply my mother’s daughter, but those words coming from my children’s lips grate on my ears.
So one day in the car, on the way to my mother-in-law’s home to swim, my six-year-old Alyssa thought it was funny to say the word “fart” over and over. I nicely told her to stop, but a few moments later she repeated herself. I then told her she would have to spend 5 minutes in time-out at Nama’s house before she could swim.
Once we arrived, while the rest of us went to the backyard pool, Alyssa obediently sat in the living room with Glenn, my mother-in-law’s husband, and served her time.
Later my husband and I returned to the living room cool off in the air conditioning with Glenn. He put his book down and raised a playful eyebrow, feigning seriousness.
“I asked Alyssa if she was in time-out,” he said. “She told me yes, because she said the f-word.”
I haven’t belly-laughed that hard in a very long time.
But I also couldn’t tell him the whole story quick enough, desperate for him to know the truth. I almost posted this on Facebook for her teachers and friends’ moms to see: “If my daughter says she got in trouble for saying the f-word, it’s fart. Just so we’re clear!”
Though such a simple misunderstanding, doesn’t this happen on a larger scale in our lives every day? It’s so easy for us to misconstrue the words, actions, and body-language of others. And how much will we let that beanstalk continue to wrap around our minds, paralyzing us, sucking the breath out of us?
Because it really could have been nothing.
We can paint entire pictures of others based on incorrect assumptions. This is damaging and potentially destructive. It sabotages relationships.
And if the situation were reversed (as it often is), wouldn’t we want the benefit of the doubt?
The truth God seems to continue to press into me is to look for the good in others. Believe the best as we would want them to believe the best in us. Overlook perceived offenses. If the measure we use is the way it will be measured to us, I want to be found pouring grace upon grace.
Because we never know when the f-word is simply “fart.”
Excerpted from my every-other-Wednesday “Coffee Talk” e-mail. To receive these in your inbox, subscribe here: