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With Grace & Salt

Let your conversation be always full of grace seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.Colossians 4:6

Have you ever met someone who says things you wish you had the guts to say, but don’t? Do you have a friend who says things you were embarrassed to witness and are left standing there thinking, “Do they even have a filter?!”Maybe you know one or two people with these tendencies, and maybe you are the person who speaks with little care as to who hears it. I, for one, relate to both. People have told me on one hand, “I’m so glad you said that because I was thinking the same exact thing!” and then other times I’ll get told, “KIM! STOP! WHY DID YOU SAY THAT!?” I’ll say what I think and how I feel, even if I’m the only one who stands by it and others see no reason for my comment. There are times when I’m proud of this, and other times when I wonder why I was given the ability to speak at all. Almost every time I hear myself say something that I may or may not have rehearsed in my mind beforehand, I observe what emergency escape plans are available for me to run from the conversation. Can I just tuck and roll my way out of this office? Is there any chance you didn’t hear me say that and that’s why you’re not responding? Is it possible for me to use the Obliviate charm to block out what just happened and go off happily throughout the rest of our day? Without trying, I can easily be the most awkward conversationalist in the room. When it’s quiet, and I don’t feel like it should be quiet, I’ll start talking about how I screamed in the stairway running away from the pigeons flying over me. Would you believe me if I told you one of the main responsibilities of my job is talking to people? Other times, I really like the silence and will soak it in because the world has so much noise. Other times, I’m a somewhat normal individual that will surprise you with a conversation in the produce isle at Sprouts. The point I always try to get to is no matter how poorly I say it, I want to know how you’re doing—even if I don’t know your name. I want people to know someone is listening, and wants to have a conversation with them. Needless to say (but I'm saying it), recovering from discussions that leave you feeling like a weirdo has its' moments. Finding the balance of using gracious words alongside salty honesty, though, is a challenge. We always want to say the right thing at the perfect time, something better than what can be found on a Hallmark card. We search for the best way to phrase our deepest sympathies. We run circles in our minds thinking of the best words to use to lift up someone who needs it today. We like to skip over the hard conversations, though, because that's what challenges us to dig deep, to be personal and authentic with another person (and that's really scary). What makes this hard is the ease and availability of social media. Let's forget about the face-to-face discussions and go straight to posting about our bad days, our promotions, our devastations, and our victories online. "Just a little type there and a press of a button here, and there. My thoughts are shared." "Okay Kimber, so what are you doing writing some of these things on the this corner of the internet?"Here's my answer: I share my victories and break down in tears with my people before I do so with the world. It's too easy to not do this when our friends are distant, when our family doesn't seem like they're on our team, and the closest thing you have to escape your loneliness is by posting it on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. If you have FaceTime, Duo, texting or calling available to you, I strongly suggest you reach for those first. There are always going to be people who have your back who may not necessarily be on your "home team". In other words, there are people who will comment or like your photo because they do care. Chase down those closest to you before skipping on over to the easiest option. You can do hard things, and that includes your ability to reach out to others. To be honest, when I have "one of those days" where I feel inadequate and small, I ignore my friends. Pretty inspirational, I know. I'm finding, though, that we need to run towards those who mean the most to us and not away from them. It's easier (at least for me) to sulk in my depression because no one can tell me I'm in the wrong for doing so. I don't have anybody telling me what I need to hear. I just get to sit on the couch in fetal position questioning what good is this life. Doesn't that sound better than being encouraged? Doesn't that sound like your ideal day off? The answer is no. You should be saying no. Iron sharpens iron, and this is not done by us telling one another that we're perfect and we can cry all day if we want to and complain about everything because life sucks and you don't deserve this pain. It's done by loving each other enough to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn. It's done by bringing attention to what areas of growth we see in one another. It is of no benefit to anyone for you to be salty 24-7 as if it's your job. Nor does it help someone grow as a person when you sugar coat your remarks. Be honest. Use some salt in your speech, but do so with grace. Have you ever heard the phrase "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"? Of course you have. As a kid, I thought this was kind of stupid and obvious. I would say to any teacher who proclaimed it to the class, "No, words are not going to leave you purple and green bruises on your arm like sticks and rocks, why would anyone say that?!" There to the corner of the classroom I would be sent to sit. In all seriousness though, words do leave bruises, just not the kind visible to us. We can choose whether or not we are going to ponder on and allow the harmful words to hurt us or not, of course. We can choose to not spend our time wondering what the person really meant and begin to doubt our worth.Words do hurt though, yet we do this to each other anyways, sometimes willingly.We've all said things we didn't mean at one point or another. Maybe you snapped at your relative for buying the wrong thing at the store when you were really specific. Or maybe you put in your two-sense during the gossip chat at work. We've each been in situations where hurtful comments were said and we kind of wish they hadn't come out of our mouths (me practically every day). We all have been on the receiving end of words that are hard to recover from (like when the one thing you doubt yourself on all the time was pointed out harshly by someone you trusted). We see the power our words have over those around us only after we've said what we initially believed needed to be said. In reality, maybe it did, but not with that much salt. We even trick ourselves into thinking that we really do need to hurt those who have hurt us because they deserve it to some extent.We can't allow the wounds that were caused by ourselves or somone else to justify us inflicting hurt onto the next person who may look at us wrong. Don't slam everybody down with your harsh criticism because you know best (because you don't always know what's best). Don't say rude things for the sake of saying it. Don't be ticked off because your best friend, sister, cousin or spouse is crying after a long day. Let them have time for sorrow or "pity parties", just be a good friend and don't allow them to stay in that shadow for long. I love how Max Lucado said it in his book In the Eye of the Storm:

The next time the challenges "outside" tempt you to shut the door and stay inside, stay long enough to get warm. Then get out.

Don't get too comfortable on the couch with your ice-cream and Friends re-runs (I've never done that...). The world needs you to gather your strength, share your joys and your pains with those you love, and move on because you matter. In reference to the verse I shared at the beginning of this post, I struggle with having more salt in my speech than I do grace. Not solely based on my inability to keep my mouth shut when I may need to (sigh), but because some words I choose to say to strangers and close friends alike come out wrong and they come out hurtful. I hope I'm getting better at it, hope that my words carry more kindness and grace than smite compared to who I was five years ago. Just as I'm learning to be gracious in my words, I want to invite you to do the same. Be intentional in the ways you choose to speak to others and to yourself. What you say matters just as much as how you say it. Speak with grace, but don't forget the salt. -Kimber

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