Monday, October 5, 2009

My name in your mouth

Okay, it's not as dirty and sexy as you might think. Not this time, anyway. But it is from a quote about what love is. A quote from a child, at that. Love is when my name feels safe in your mouth.

Because we all know the feeling when our names don't feel safe in someone's mouth (or email, as I discovered this morning). When you hear your name, and a part of your soul, that very tender, fragile part, quakes because you are certain this person will criticize you, dimish you, or otherwise bruise part of your soul. The times when you hear a presumably reasonable comment regarding a project or a performance or an answer to a question, but what you really hear is, "Your name here, you are unworthy and I don't care about you."

Which is how I read the one-word response to my emailed question this morning. Not as an answer, but as a statement that I was unworthy of a kinder response or that my question was bothersome, even that I was bothersome. I don't even have to hear my name to feel unsafe. The terse response to my email question didn't feel safe.

You may be thinking words right now like overly sensitive or over-reaction, and you'd be right. We humans are a complicated and complex blend of emotions, and when we are hurt emotionally, our brain interprets those injuries just as if we've been hurt physically. Only problem? We get treated for broken bones. We let broken parts of our souls stay broken. We may decide to use boundaries to wall off the injured parts of us. But someone always gets through those walls to find our ancient soul injuries, those gashes and cuts to our dignity, our very worth, that have never completely healed. These deep soul wounds cause us to react strongly to a comment, a look, even an email that pushes on the tender spots. We suddenly feel unsafe. Unloved. Unworthy.

So what do we do? We name our hurts, the events that happen that make us feel unsafe. Many times simply recognizing that our pain is genuine and real offers us healing. We may even find the courage to talk with the one who wounded us. And when we're the perpetrators (and we all are), we accept our fault. We pray, and we remember that we are loved, beloved, and loved even more by God and by many around us.

So what do I do? I deleted the email and called a friend to talk. My name feels safe in her mouth. And for that I am thankful.

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