“I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” If only that were true. It’s usually the opposite. “Whatever you say sticks to me…and you will forget all about it by morning, while I’ll still remember it 10 yrs later. ”
Why is that? Why do we give such credence to people’s direct or even off-hand comments? Why do we give others power over us?
I think I was in 3rd grade when a boy named Nick yelled at me across the volleyball court in PhysEd class. He had screamed, “You suck!” because I had missed the ball. I can still see his face 30 years later! That’s warped! Why in the world would I tuck that moment away in my memory for future remembrance? I don’t know, but I did. And it’s not the only one. I can think of several cruel or cutting things that were said to me as a child. I can vividly remember them. And yet I can’t remember to take my child to a birthday party that’s on the calendar! How crazy is that?
I think many of us need a “memory-ectomy” because those memories influence how we hear things today. They create filters that affect how we hear other people’s words. Those filters can take a comment such as, “Wow, you haven’t changed!” (which could be a compliment) and turn it into, “Wow, you will never change.” (which could be an insult.) Harmless straight-forward comments turn into sarcastic jabs. Have you ever experienced this? I’ve seen it happen right in front of me and I’ve probably done it myself more than once.
The crazy thing is that so many times we read other people’s “looks” or “tones” as judgmental or insulting when 90% of the time they aren’t thinking about us at all. They’re focused on their own insecurities. They probably think we are being judgmental of them. I wish there were some way to help people just relax and not worry so much.
I learned a long time ago that I can’t control what people think. I can only control myself. I believe if someone is upset with me, if I’ve offended them in some way, they should tell me. I would never intentionally hurt someone so if someone does feel that I’ve hurt them, I would absolutely want to know so I can reconcile. However, I do not waste time worrying about whether or not someone is upset with me.
One of my favorite quotes (and I can’t find out which genius said it, despite my best googling efforts) is, “Worry is interest paid on a debt you may never owe.” How many of us would sign up for a credit card and when the first bill is due, write out a check for twice the amount owed…just in case we decided to buy something in the future? No one! That would be absurd. But that’s exactly what worry is! It accomplishes absolutely nothing good. And it robs us of the joy of the day we are living in.
So back to the rubber and glue. I think the lesson I’m learning is a double-sided one. First, I shouldn’t hold on to the hurtful things people have said to me. I need to actively let go of those hurts because even if I’m not consciously thinking of those memories, they can affect my vision. They can affect how I hear and see people around me today. I don’t know about you, but I’m giving myself that memory-ectomy. I can only do that with God’s help. He is the master surgeon.
And then I also need to be conscious of what I say to others. Especially my kids. Being a mom is hard (can I get an amen?). So I can end up saying things to my kids that I regret. I apologize and I ask them to forgive me. But wouldn’t it be much better if I could learn to control my tongue ahead of time? (Taming the Tongue…that’s a topic for another post soon!) That’s my other prayer for today. That God will help me bite my tongue when I’m tempted to say something I’ll regret. And even more important, that he’ll change me from the inside so I won’t even be tempted to use my tongue as a whip.
How about you? Do you need a memory-ecotmy? Do you need help buttoning your lips? Do you have a verse that helps you in that moment of wanting to unload on someone? Or one that helps you not to worry about what others think of you? Share your thoughts below!