“With Every Broken Bone…”

I have this thing with words.

I love, like…it’s probably bordering on obsession, the way people can use words to create an image and convey a message and turn the world right on its end. For better or worse.

Well, I don’t love the “worse” part…but it goes without saying, though I’ll say it anyway, that words are powerful. They carry weight and you can tear down or build up with them. And in my life, I have experienced both.

I have been crushed and made to believe that I was “less than” because of someone’s words. Haven’t we all? SOMEone, SOMEwhere has sent your world spinning out of orbit with things that they’ve said to you or about you. And if I may borrow Taylor Swift’s words,  (yes, yes. I said Taylor Swift…I’ve mentioned before that we have very eclectic music taste around here), these are the words that I’ve felt that I’ve wanted to dance around my living room singing into a hairbrush (I AM basically, perpetually 12.) and shout these words over and over and over again to the ones who’ve caused me pain.

You, with your words like knives

And swords and weapons that you use against me

You have knocked me off my feet again

Got me feeling like I’m nothing…

…You have pointed out my flaws again

As if I don’t already see them

I walk with my head down

Trying to block you out ’cause I’ll never impress you

I just wanna feel okay again

Now, I know that I have not always used my words to encourage either. Pot, kettle, black. The end.

So, oh heavens, someone might be out there singing into their hairbrush about me.

And that pretty much makes me want to vomit. 

I’ve said things, and in the age of social media, WRITTEN things that I’ll go back later and think, “Oh bless. That does NOT sound at all the way I thought it did when I first said/wrote it. The world thinks I am amazingly harsh. I should never be allowed to speak again.” (We are own worst critics, right? At least, I hope.)

And on the flip side of being the recipient of harsh words, I have also received notes and cards and, once again…in the age of social media, Facebook posts and emails that I have read over and over and over again…because they make me feel good and loved and warm and fuzzy  and happy like puppies and popsicles on a warm summer eve. (And also, I’m basically, perpetually 12.)

This whole post came out of the fact that on Saturday I was able to spend some time with some of my Georgia girls by meeting them “halfway” in Greenville.

Let’s take a moment and say that Greenville is not necessarily “halfway”…but it’s alright, ladies. It’s alright. You were worth the midnight arrival… Kisses and hugs, friends!

They “made” me hike down to the river and I almost passed out from heat exhaustion and had to later stop and buy deodorant to replace the clinical strength stuff that had already faded thanks to the fact that we HIKED TO THE RIVER… nothing but love, ladies. nothing but love.

I’m a bit of a heavy sweat-er. I have no idea why…but I can just walk out to my van in the summer and I’m all “Water! I need water! I’m hallucinating! Is that a mirage? I’m hallucinating!”.

At one point, we walked into a smoothie/coffee/bubble tea (btw, BLECH!) shop…and I was immediately hit with the smell of “ripe person”.

I thought it was me and decided to stand at least 3 feet from all of my companions for the rest of the day.

Turns out, it wasn’t me. It was just a very organic crowd that likes to hang out in this particular shop. They have amazing pineapple/melon smoothies though. There’s always a trade off.

Not only did I have to repeatedly apologize for what I’m sure was my overwhelming and offensive odor…but I also found myself asking if my eyebrows had melted off. I only naturally have half an eyebrow above each eye. Again, I do not know why. I suffer from Half-Eyebrow Syndrome. My most used makeup product is my “brow fix kit”. Yes. That’s a thing. So I know I’m not the only one who suffers from this affliction.

Anyway, we wandered up and down the main street in Greenville, where they have an obscene amount of restaurants to choose from. (Here’s where I plug Nose Dive. French Toast that was heavenly.)

We were looking for “shops”. You know, where you go in and buy random kitschy stuff that you don’t necessarily need, but can always say “I picked it up on Girl’s Day in Greenville”…so it’s kind of worth the price. Three out of four of us ended up buying some flavored salt and spices from a spice store…Can we say “chocolate sea salt”? Whaaaaaaat? I needed it. NEEEEEDDED IT.

Finally we found the “general store”. I don’t know what qualifications you have to have for a “general store”, but this one contained 1000 square feet of over-priced t-shirts, hiking boots, flannel shirts and sundresses. I kind of wanted to cry tears of heartbreak when we walked in.

But as with most things in life, keep walking through the junk you hate and think “why?? WHY??!!! Who needs this?!”, and you will find the barrels of candy in the back.

Down the stairs and into the glory. Puzzles, and old-timey looking dishes, random kitchen accessories, penny candy barrels.

Penny candy barrels are not really a penny anymore. I paid $9.00 for a bunch of loose candy I could’ve bought for $3.50 at Publix.

I’m a sucker who overpays for suckers.

I really do have a point to this story about “words”, I promise. Stick with me.

So, I wandered to the journals. Heaven help me, I love anything that has paper. And you stick a cool cover on the front and then, be still my heart!, slap a quote on top of THAT, and suddenly I’m willing to dish out $15.00 for a stack of paper.

Two of my girls were already wandering the candy barrel section and buying RC Colas and moon pies when I happened upon the journals. I made an audible “Oooooohhhhhh…” while parents hugged their children a little closer to them to keep the safe from the crazy paper-sniffing lady one aisle away from the over-priced plastic Dollar Tree toys.

And I found one quote that I fell in love with right there. Like I almost melted into the floor. (So long, what’s left of my eyebrows…)

The most beautiful people we have known

are those who have

known DEFEAT,

known SUFFERING,

known STRUGGLE,

known LOSS,

and found their way out of the depths.

These persons have

an APPRECIATION,

a SENSITIVITY,

and an UNDERSTANDING of life that fills them with

COMPASSION, GENTLENESS, & A DEEP LOVING CONCERN.

Beautiful people do not just happen.

That is a quote from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the psychiatrist who first talked about the “five stages of death”.

Now theologically and spiritually speaking, I don’t believe that Mrs. Kubler-Ross and I have too much in common. But I would be very narrow-minded to not think that there are truths, God-ordained truths, that even the loudest critics against Christianity can not deny. And this is one of them.

Pain is universal. And pain can bring beauty. IF you allow yourself to not become bitter.

If you can turn the pain over to God, daily or hourly or moment by heart-breaking moment, you can be SURE that He will redeem it. I can’t explain it. I only know that I’ve seen it.

I am LIVING it right now.

On my drive home from Greenville on Saturday night, my road tunes of choice were mostly from One Republic. If you’ve never listened to One Republic, just do it. You’ll be able to take their catchy tunes and poetic lyrics and over-analyze them to fit whatever situation you find yourself in. (Or maybe just the Word Nerds like myself do that. I don’t really know.)

One of the songs that I hit repeat on, like…a LOT (because I’m basically, perpetually 12 years old), was a song called I Lived. And in short, it’s another one of those songs that someone will play at their kid’s high school graduation all perfectly choreographed to a slide show chronicling every event of their child’s life. And really, we do not NEED ONE MORE SONG that we dedicate to our little children (“I Hope You Dance”, “My Wish”, etc,etc,etc)…but THIS song… Well, THIS SONG…I’m probably going to write out the lyrics to and frame or sew on a bag or tattoo On. My. Face.

The entire song is flipping awesome…but the part that gets me is that when he looks back on his life, he wants to be able to say…oh my gosh, are you ready for it???….

With every broken bone, I swear I lived

Everyone can interpret song lyrics to fit their situations. That’s not lost on me. But THIS one…well, this one said to me that through the pain and the scars that made their marks on me, I chose to keep going. I chose to NOT shut down or build walls or grow bitter and give up on life or humanity.

It says to me that I allowed God to heal my heart. That I took the time to recover and rest when the road broke

and the pain hit

and the people left

and the night fell.

But then, I got up.

Changed, yes.

But for the better…

because I allowed God to rebuild and restore

and to “make a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”.

(Isaiah 43:19)

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