A few weeks ago I reposted a blog that my wife, Taya Gray, wrote. It went over so well I decided to post another one! She’s a wise and reflective woman, but very modest about her blogs, quietly posting them and letting who will discover them. But I thought readers here might be encouraged by this and with her permission I’m posting it here. I shared this story of the wrong box of cookies with Andrew (Peterson, in case you didn’t know) late one night at his house a couple months ago and we were both struck, as parents, how even the slightest and most innocent off hand comment can be so consequential… I’ll admit that in that regard it is a cautionary tale that made us terrified, but also all the more committed to keeping short accounts with our kids and most of all, dependent on the grace of God to fill in where we will inevitably fall short. But enough about all of that, there are more significant treasures to be mined here… Rabbit Roomers, a word from Taya Gray:
I really like Girl Scout Cookies. If the truth be told, I can eat an entire box in one sitting. It’s good that I have kids now, so that they can share the burden of eating the darn things. As if that burden needed to be shared. The chocolate peanut butter cookies are our favorites, but Samoas are sneaking up behind. I actually put the Thin Mint cookies in the freezer. It gives them an extra icy crunch that I love! Actually, I love them all, except for the Lemon Chalet Cremes. I don’t care for those, which is strange since
lemon is one of my favorite flavors.
Yesterday Kristopher had his weekly violin lesson and at the end his teacher (a fellow Girl Scout Cookie addict, apparently) offered us her box of Lemon Chalet Cremes. It was unopened and she knew as soon as she opened it she would eventually eat the whole box that day. Familiar story. So she took her 3 cookies out and gave us the rest of the box. Very generous of her, except that it was Lemon Chalet Cremes, and so I wasn’t terribly excited.
I hesitantly took a bite of cookie and was stunned by the rush of emotions that followed. When I was younger I would sometimes accompany my dad to work. On one of these days he had packed us sandwiches for lunch but had forgotten dessert. He pulled a few dollars from his petty cash and sent me across the street to the grocery to buy a box of cookies. This was a little bit stressful for me, as a shy child, to go to a grocery store alone, but also, I felt nervous about choosing the right kind of cookie. My dad, at work and busy, told me to simply buy anything I wanted. When I came back excitedly with a box of lemon crème cookies and my dad was disappointed and surprised that I would pick lemon over chocolate, I reminded him that he told me to get “anything I wanted.” To which he replied, “Anything but lemon cookies!”
How is it that a casually-spoken comment can carry so much weight that it can rearrange who we are? As I bit into that lemon crème cookie yesterday I thought to myself, “this is the flavor that taught me that ‘anything you want’ actually means ‘anything but what you really want’” No wonder I don’t like lemon crème cookies!
I’m beginning to realize that over the years I have failed to express how I really feel, or ask for the things I really want because sub-consciously I am afraid that those would be the very things I wouldn’t be allowed to have. What has eventually happened is that I have forgotten how to have my own feelings, or to want things for myself.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!” Whoever came up with that sure got it wrong! And probably hid in hurt for most of their lonely life.
In moments of honesty and vulnerability, we are all of us so frail. It’s important that we are careful with each other. It’s so important that we are careful with ourselves too, and honest, so that the places in us that get wounded don’t become permanently broken.
Last night at my Codependents Anonymous Meeting (CoDA, as it is called, is for people who chose the wrong box of cookies as children and are still punishing themselves for it as adults) we were told that if you are trying to change, you need to be patient with yourself. If you are close with someone who is trying to change you need to be very very patient with them. We need to be careful with each other . . . and ourselves. That’s good for me to hear. It’s good for me to have permission to be patient with myself. And though I don’t plan on eating Lemon Chalet Cremes anytime soon, the next time I get asked to pick anything I want, I will, in fact, do just that.