“Whoa! Wait a minute! You mean to tell me that when you are mad at someone, you don’t find the meanest thing you can possibly say to exploit their most sensitive and vulnerable insecurities?!?!” **mind. blown!** Yep…sadly, these were my thoughts when I was a newlywed. Marrying Stanton Billy was one of the best choices I have ever made…not just because he is amazing…but because he has helped me to become better. I have often thought that he got the raw end of the deal (seriously not fishing for compliments here) because has endured quite a bit during our marriage: the poisoning which damaged my health and our checkbook, the resulting changes in my personality, and let’s not forget the clearly balanced and healthy person that the first sentence of this writing indicates that I was…poor guy…and he’s even done this without a straight-jacket or high-level sedatives!
What is my point? Well, there is a verse about how relationships are designed to help form us into better people: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 NIV) Now, I’m going to border on the blasphemous (again! I know!) But I see this verse differently…maybe it’s because of the word sharp…I tend to think of it as a negative. For example, I would describe the former Bekah (before Stan (b.S as his family refers to it)) as being very sharp…not as in sharp-witted…more as in sharp-tongued. I had very rough edges. I was not a super-loving or gentle person. I was damaged and harsh and calloused and I saw sensitivity as weakness. Anyway, back to the verse. Instead of sharpening, I think of the analogy more in terms of smoothing. I used to do ceramics and there are different stages and techniques that can be used before it is fired in the kiln versus after it is fired: When the piece has been fired, it is hardened and whitish in color. This is called a bisque. If there are flaws in a hardened bisque, you can sand them down with metal tools or super-coarse sand paper to smooth them out. But before the item is fired in the kiln, the mud is only slightly hardened by air. It is grayish in color and is easily damaged and is called greenware. Greenware often has flaws in it (It has been poured into a mold which will leave lines at the seams and what not) but these flaws are easily addressed. Instead of using metal tools or sandpaper, greenware can be “finger-sanded.” What this means is that by ever-so-gently rubbing the greenware with your fingers, you can sand off the extra lines and smooth out the flaws.
For the love…Bekah…what is the point? Glad you asked! When Stan and I met, I was a bisque that had not addressed my flaws while still a greenware. So instead of having smooth edges, I had sharp ridges…so sharp that I could quite easily cut someone. Stan’s approach to me was as gentle as if I were greenware. He didn’t try to harshly knock off any of my dangerously sharp points. He gently took my hand and just started walking through life with his eyes on Jesus. When we would encounter another of my harsh points, he would just point to Jesus again and smile. He didn’t try to point out my damage and my rough lines…I could see them clearly enough when I looked at Jesus and then looked at myself. This approach allowed me to want to change me (which is the only way that real and lasting changes occur.) This left me thankful to and for the man who held my hand and walked instead of pulling out the tools to do some heavy remodeling. This left me content and joyful instead of resentful. And despite what science says about it, I gradually transitioned from a bisque to greenware…reversed this irreversible transformation.
So, how are you doing with this? Are you a bisque or greenware? When you look at Jesus and yourself, do you have some rough edges to work on? What is he telling you to address right now? Do you have relationships that could be helping you in your quest to smooth out some flaws? What about the people around you? Do you feel the need to point at their flaws and yell “See it? It’s right there!!!!” Could you be taking a gentler approach? I’ve noticed that when change is desired by the person, it can be liberating and lead to healing. But when change is externally-motivated, resentment can build quickly. Are you trying to force change on others? If so, how could you become a source of empowerment for them instead of a dictator? How can you love them toward healing instead of giving them a nice, firm shove?
My prayer today is that we would address our wounds instead of ignoring them and that we would gently love others as we focus on Jesus…that we would be wounded healers…works of art that are still being refined but that already reach out to people and move them even while still incomplete. Much love friends,