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.
Jason Gray is a recording artist with Centricity Records. His latest single, out now, is "When I Say Yes".
Rena F Troy
Thank you… There are so many things in my life that I don’t dare experience because they are connected to feelings of failure as a child… The fact that I never sang becuase my girlfriend told me when I was young that I sounded like a duck. Now, almost 50, I have realized that I have a wonderful voice… and use it as often as I can – but it took me majority of my life to get over that feeling of disappointment that was put upon me as a child. How many years I would of loved to sing my heart out at church, at school, or at other events, but hid behind that veil of disappointment and failure. The other obstacle that I have overcome with God’s help is the careless and earth shattering words that were spoken to me as an adult by a sister….who happened to mention to me that “she could tell that I was not right with God because I was still struggling with my weight”. For three years I cried. “God , what have I done that is so bad that you won’t accept me? Why do you hate me because I’m overweight?” Then one day, while crying out for help with my weight, I heard His voice in my heart, “I love you just the way you are, besides there are bigger issues in your life that need my help right now, don’t worry about your weight, it’s your heart I’m concerned about.”
I read this at work and came close to bawling, which isn’t that unusual for me here. What is unusual is that as I finished reading I calmed down, and smiled.
“We need to be careful with each other . . . and ourselves.”
I wish all those little things weren’t so painful, or so hard to forget. But I’m so thankful for sisters and brothers who are familiar with the ache and are willing to strive for Christlikeness and treat each other (and themselves) better. Though I guess I shouldn’t need permission to act more like Jesus, good examples such as yours grant it to me anyway. Ahh, grace…
Thank you again, Taya! and thanks Jason for letting her shine!
Thanks for speaking of a universal experience.
I read this relevant gem in Springs in the Valley this morning:
“In the very depths of yourself, dig a grave. Let it be like some forgotten spot to which no path leads; and there, in the eternal silence, bury the wrongs that you have suffered. Your heart will feel as if a weight had fallen from it, and a Divine peace come to abide with you.” Charles Wagner
I see in this not repression but healing. We acknowledge the wrong things done to us as wrongs, and that we have suffered from them. As we bury them we handle them, look at them as they are falling into the hole, each in its turn. And then we shovel the dirt over that big hole, fill it up, cover it up with leaves and bracken so we can never find it to dig it up again.
Norman Grubb actually drew a picture. It was a gravestone that said, “Norman Grubb. R.I.P.” The old has gone; the new has come.
Thanks Taya. That’s a great picture and as Jason noted, certainly a cautionary tale for how to engage each other in conversation. That holds doubly true with our children. They can often times be cut by our words when we are caught up in other things — like your dad at work.
It happened with my daughter (who just turned 16) and me at dinner back in May. She and I were talking about Middle East issues and I was prattling on not really engaged with her when my wife said ‘Honey, you’re upsetting her.” In my mind, it was just a good natured discussion with my teenager, but to her it was heady stuff (she really got into world history/politics this year thanks to a great AP World History Teacher) and I was quashing her independent thought process by rambling on – much like your dad with the cookies. No intent, just not really intent on listening fully to her.
I hate it when I do that but I’m glad Abby gave me some grace and that I had Cherie there to catch me. As a parent, I am certainly glad that “love covers a multitude of sins.”
On a cookie note, we did a straw poll at work one year during cookie season and Thin Mints won out as most popular with Samoas a very close second. I love Samoas. This post is flinging a cookie craving on me.
Thanks Taya for the post. Much to reflect on. I was first introduced to the Rabbit Room with Jason’s Halloween post. Keep sharing, you all bless us.
Jason, thank you for ‘quietly’ sharing this post. Taya, it’s undercurrents aren’t so quiet though and I remember rewriting the ol’ sticks and stones rhyme to include ‘but words will always hurt me.’ Two things ignited the energy to ‘dig a grave’ for all those hurtful comments: the challenge and permission of a college professor my senior year to complete a project on shame instead of a science report and this quote by Mary Oliver, “who wants to see a bird almost fly?”
Granted, the Oliver quote is linked to a poem not working, but it came to be a visual picture for me of how I was allowing something, someone to effect my behavior, character–even when I didn’t respect them. It was time for some serious digging, and apart from being bombarded by Jesus–that time of my life was the most healing. This post reminded me of how much I have to be grateful for…
I hope you all will humor me, but I thought this was relevant to this excellent post. It’s a poem I wrote a while back entitled “Carelessness.”
I do not think
I do not hear – as words drop from my tongue like fine china –
I do not see – as bloodied feet bury within themselves the shards –
Carelessness is my crime
for which everyone else must pay
I love this as it speaks so much of the path of grace. Others were hard on me when I was a child…harsh & critical. I have fully taken over their role and am so often harsh & critical with myself now – very much my own worst enemy. Though I’m taking steps to cease that destruction it’s a hard path.
Jason’s song “The Golden Boy and the Prodigal” has encouraged me about acknowledging and having mercy on the broken parts of myself…starting to allow my heart to receive the gift of grace poured out. I so long to walk safely in fields of grace yet most often the attack is coming from the wounded snipers inside my own heart. I so agree we need to be careful and have patience with each other and ourselves and hopefully in that environment the “sniper” will be disarmed and able to heal.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful truth. It’s a worthy word – aptly spoken.
It’s been a while since I last visited the Rabbit Room. Thank you, Jason & Taya, for the posting on the importance of considering our words.
Words have enormous power and the Bible has much to say on the use of them. Ephesians 4:15 reminds us that we are to “speak the truth in love,” and later in verse 29 to “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Taya’s story is wonderful pictorial reminder of the human casualties of careless words. We must remember, however, that there is also an eternal dimension to our words. Christ Jesus warns us in Matthew 12:36 that we will all one day give an account for what we say, and by extension, what we sing and write. Our words, our songs, and our stories must be considered very carefully. Yes, we need to be careful to not hurt the hearts or crush the spirits of children, friends, and strangers alike, but we must also consider how our words might affect faith and right understanding of the Savior.
There is another issue that I don’t believe has been considered in this tale and the responses to it thus far: where does our confidence come from? Does our sense of worth and purpose come from the words of affirmation (or criticism) we receive from others, or does it come from something much greater? Please understand that I feel it important to speak graciously and help others to do the same, but we have difficulty keeping our own words and actions under control and no power at all to keep the words of another from being damaging. For this reason we must seek to remind ourselves and to help our children and those around us to look beyond the hurtful words to the grace of Jesus Christ. Our worth must be defined by Him, not someone else’s estimation of us.
Proverbs 3:25-26 “Do not be afraid of sudden terror,
Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;
For the LORD will be your confidence,
And will keep your foot from being caught.”
When situations arise in which hurtful words are spoken to us or by us, we must look to His grace all the more, both to forgive and find forgiveness at the Cross.
John 1:1-5 (Read Slowly and as if for the first time)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,  and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
A word is a powerful thing.
The Scriptures are the best example of this and our American psyche has been illumined by the words of great men “We hold these truths to be self evident….”, “Four score and and seven years ago…”, and “I have a dream…”.
However, contrary to our culture’s best thoughts of men, words have the distinct ability to have eternal effects far exceeding their temporal utterance. Well said, “We need to be careful with each other . . . and ourselves.” Yet, we must turn to the eternal Word to find the course to trod when we fall short of our high calling. And, yes, we all fall drastically short of what we are yet to become. We are debtors all, mostly to God, but, in truth, debtors to all men.
Sin and our Enemy have taken the power of words and attempted to use it to their advantage. Yet, the rebellion has already been destroyed. We are winning am overwhelming victory which has already been won and sealed by the Blood of the Lamb. He has made us more than conquerors (Rom 8:37). He has made of Ministers of Reconciliation.
When all else passes away and we stand in the presence of Christ, we will be heirs to an unending eternity of Incarnate Love, Grace, and Mercy. Our destiny is the eternal entering into that continuing back and forth ministering of “Shalom” through the vehicle of praise and worship.
And still this is not merely pie in the sky by-and-by. God has drawn us from the darkness into a positional resting in Christ for all of our neediness. He has placed us at the point where His love is most potent – in His Son. He has made the way to enter into that eternal peace, even now.
Out of the unending fountain of this Grace in which we now stand, He has allowed us to participate in His eternal scheme of Faith, Hope, and Love as Ministers of Reconciliation. Forgiveness and Reconciliation have the distinct ability to strengthen the bonds of affection, even after the most egregious acts of hatred, vengeance, and strife. Forgiveness and love will cover over a multitude of sin, if we walk in them.
He has allowed us to share in the beating back of the darkness by forgiving each other. It is a privilege that we shall wear for all of Eternity. He has empowered us, by the death of His Son, to forgive. It is a balm which soothes even the deepest of wounds.
Thanks for sharing – a lot to reflect on. Reminds me of a fabulous book with a lot of practical truth, Could It Be This Simple? A Biblical Model for Healing the Mind by Timothy R Jennings MD. I try to avoid reading non-fiction, but this one was well worth my time!
I just found your website and I just love it!! I look forward to researching the works that you feature here. I forwarded the site to my 21 year old son who I know will enjoy it as well. Thank you.
I so needed this right now. Thank you.
I’m wondering if Taya has her own blog. This post has helped me a lot… I first read it a couple weeks ago, but had to come back and re-read.
this resonates with me
i was bended with words
probably i allowed it
it is just so hard to dust it off
but sometimes it’s just too tiring to hear
and believe what others are saying
so enough is enough
i got to talk to myself and listen
listened i did
and now i’m smiling
Hi, I heard a song you performed on cable today. It struck a chord in me for my son-in-law that’s a new Christian and struggling. I thought I got the name off the screen, but it was the album name instead. It’s about looking at your wife and she smiles at you, but she’s thinking lead me. Could you tell me the name of the song and what album it’s on so I can get it for him? Thanks and God bless!
I love the song you are talking about it’s by a group that Jason has toured with called Sanctus Real their song is called “Lead Me” from their new album “Pieces of a Real Heart”. So good…you can find more information about them at http://www.sanctusreal.com including the story behind the song – it’s really powerful isn’t it? Blessings…
Thanks a lot for this story. After reading this story I realize my wife may be a co-dependent. Her mother did not find anything she did or any of her choices to be acceptable her whole life. She even expresses her disappointment when my wife became pregnant for the first time, because God chose to give us a boy but she wanted my wife to have a girl. Well she passed away this year and my wife misses her greatly and is grieving a lot for her. Her father passed away less than 10 months later. So we have had a tough 12 months. Anyway what I want to share is that in reading this story it brought fresh encouragement to me to be more patient with her as she works through these issues. We have made great progress and I am so thankful for our work there, but b/c of her tragedy it has been a real struggle in the most recent months.
I am not one with a lot of patience! This story will be a real help to me and also I think God led me to this story in concurrence with Jason’s new song about being remade which I recently have enjoyed hearing. Thanks for sharing!
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