To this day, he doesn’t know how profoundly he changed me in that moment.
A room full of peers surrounding us, and me in my pieced-together Halloween costume, eager to be the next chosen in the game of charades. I felt pretty. I had a black wig, an old kimono from my mother’s closet (a benefit to growing up in a foreign country is always having great dress-ups at an arm’s reach). I had spent no less than an hour on my makeup and I had the sense that this was going to be a night where people loved me.
I was a graduate student, and I felt pretty good about life. I was always the one who brought the laughs, often at my own expense. But nonetheless, I knew I was liked. Which, in my insecure mind, meant the world was right.
We were playing charades. I still remember the word I pulled from the jar and the relief I felt over how it was going to be a cakewalk to act out. I ran to the front of the room, waited for the official timer to start, and went to town.
Unfortunately, nobody knew what I was doing. It went from bad to worse, and in about 30 seconds I went from totally confident to panicked. Everyone was staring at me.
My boyfriend shouted out something that humiliated me. He said I was awful. But he didn’t say it that nicely. I froze.
All I could see were the eyes, staring at me. The costumes, and all these people who I make laugh and who I thought loved me. And they were mocking now. They were ridiculing me and I had time left on the clock to stand there and take it.
I wouldn’t say there was a conscious realization in that moment, but it hit me later that night as I laid in bed and cried. I was too tired to take off all my makeup and the pillows were smeared with sadness.
From that day forward, I never ran for the spotlight. More than that, I became terrified of it. I would talk to you at a party, invite you to coffee, or spend time in semi-social situations, but I would NEVER have the desire to be the center of attention again. Not because I didn’t want to be loved, but rather because the potential to be humiliated was now a distinct possibility. One that I simply couldn’t risk.
There was mending that needed to be done-that still needs to be done. I pray constantly that the Lord will take away my fear of failure and disappointment and remind me that He has given me opportunities to speak because of what HE wants from me.
And yet, in so many situations, I’m digging deep into a glass bowl and praying I won’t walk off in tears.
We’re going to be talking about mending in the coming weeks, and I’m going to be asking you to contribute. Today I want to ask you this:
Can you think of a conversation you had where someone spilled words into your life that are still fighting for attention in your mind? Be as detailed or vague as you like in your comments, but please know that I will be praying for those words to lose their power in your life. We do not have to be defined by what others have spoken over us….but the power of words….ahhh, they carve deep wounds.
Let’s start mending them today.