This post has been swirling around in my spirit for the better part of six (!!!) months, but I haven’t really had the real words for it until now. (Actually, even now, I’m not entirely sure I have all the right words. But what I am sure of is that there is becoming increasingly less room in my brain for unimportant things like blog posts so I’ve got to get out whatever loose scraps I can to make room for all those important 90s song lyrics I can’t seem to forget.)
I have this friend whom I dearly adore. She happens to be strikingly beautiful, dangerously talented, wickedly smart, and hilarious. I want to tell you so many other things about her, including her name, but I can’t do that because I’m pretty sure she reads my blog and if she knew I was publicly affirming her in such a way I bet money she would very likely turn fifty shades of burgundy and demand that I remove the post immediately.
And this post is way too important to me for her to do that. So let’s just call this amazing girl Kay.
The thing about Kay is that no matter who you ask — whether they’ve known her for five minutes or her entire life — they’ll all say the same things I just did: that she’s a walking phenom; a force to be reckoned with; someone that transforms the earth from merely a revolving sphere of dusty rock to a beautiful, magical work of art. I’d venture to say that anyone you ask wouldn’t be able to find one, single bad thing to say about Kay.
But here’s the thing: none of us have to say anything bad about her because she says all the bad things about herself.
If you compliment her, she will deflect it. She’ll be the first to tell you she’s worthless. Or ugly. Or something equally wrong.
And it hurts my heart so very badly, not because all those things are untrue, but because to her, they are.
I’m sure it will come as a surprise to exactly ZERO people when I say this, but Dead Poets Society is one of my all-time favorite movies that I don’t own (DAN WHY DON’T I OWN THIS MOVIE?!?!). One of my favorite quotes from the film comes from the character of John Keating, played by Robin Williams:
No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
Whether you believe it or not, words have power. They have the power to build us up and they have the power to break us down, either in one fell swoop or in tiny bits and pieces, methodically chipped away over a period of years. And as loud as the words other people say to you can be, the words that come out of your own mouth — bubbling over from whatever is in your heart — are, strictly from a physical standpoint, the loudest ones.
The season of Lent began yesterday and, as you all know, I love to fast things for Lent — my hair straightener, all liquids except water, fried foods, the list goes on and on. But this year, I chose to fast something less tangible.
Not cuss words, mind you. But certain words that I can’t write here on this blog. Words that, when strung together in lengthy, negative diatribes, damage my spirit. Words that break me down bit by bit. Words that change my world but not for the better. Words that, when flying out of my mouth, are the loudest in my own ears.
I hate hearing all the things Kay says about herself. It is heartbreaking and infuriating. But even more than that, I hate that she hears them. Because in this screwed up world, there are enough people who can say crappy things about ourselves. Why must we give them fuel for their fire?
I can hear you, Kay. Can you? Can you hear you? If so, could you stop talking about yourself for one minute and let me talk about you? And let me talk about how you know how to make anyone laugh. Let me talk about how you sing so beautifully it gives my goosebumps goosebumps. And let me talk about how you’re so stinking smart and capable and can do literally whatever you set your mind to.
I can hear me. Can you?