Sometimes, perhaps it’s really what we don’t say that makes us who we are. Maybe, just maybe, the measure of a person isn’t in what they let slip from their tongue, but instead what they have the grace to hold back, that really defines us.
I am so not good at this. When I get angry, I want to fly off the handle. I want to tell that person what I think of them and I want to use every large word my college education has provided me with. I want to obliterate the person who hurt me, or worse, hurt my child. I want to let them know exactly what they’ve done and I want them to feel the pain with every fiber of their being as they wallow in the misery they have inflicted, begging for forgiveness as they sink into the ground shrieking “I’m melting! I’m melting!” Learn your lesson: Don’t steal my proverbial ruby slippers. When push comes to shove, I’m really not a nice person.
See? This is why I believe in not speaking when angry. This is why I should be forced to sleep on anything before I send an email, a text, a freaking carrier pigeon. What’s ironic, is that I’m so quick to tell Jason not to do something, or say something, when it’s the exact same thing I’m thinking. So why is it I’m okay with preserving his reputation, when I’m ready to Tyranasaurus-rexify mine? Because I think it’s wrong to hurt people, but sometimes, hurtful words back can only add fuel to a really messy fire.
This week, we’re so blessed to have our daughter here with us for Christmas. For a 14 year-old girl, she comes with really no drama to her name. She’s calm, she’s collected, her hair is a normal color and she hasn’t dropped the dreaded “your not my mother” on me yet. Yet. I still leave room, there’s a long ways to go in the hormonal life of a teen. But this week, I saw her adapt to something gracefully, when I wanted to scream, rant and generally kick ass in her defense. There’s something primal that happens to a mother when your child is troubled, it’s not pretty. You should pretty much back away slowly, leaving copious amounts of apology and chocolate on your way out. Oh, yes, mama bear will end you. But she handled herself gracefully. So gracefully that I found myself taking a step back. Something was upsetting her, but she had the wisdom to walk away and shrug it off.
So instead of sharpening my claws on someone’s hide and doing irreparable damage, I’m blogging. 😉 Apparently, right? Thank you, Captain Obvious. It’s lead me to thinking that perhaps, making ourselves better people isn’t always about what we do, or what we say. Sometimes it’s about what we DON’T do and DON’T say. Sometimes it’s about smiling when you feel like baring your teeth, not because you’re a big sissy, but because the bigger picture is more than this moment is allowing you to see. I’m not hearing my mother say “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything….,” mostly because that’s not something my mother would say. My mother has the trademark on “mama-bear,” and I’ve seen that woman in action. For being a very proper lady, when her kids are involved, my mom can rip someone to shreds before they know what’s happened. Seriously, they leave smiling, it’s freaky and awe-inspiring. But anyway, I am thinking that perhaps lashing out in anger, though well deserved, only temporarily gives you vindication, instead of the long-term change you’re really longing to see.
I’ve had this saying rolling around in my head the last couple of weeks that I’m about to butcher. Something about grace being what you do for other people, extraordinary efforts, but never letting them know what it truly cost you. I’m going to try to make this my new standard, to go to extraordinary measures for the people that matter, the people in the big picture. I’m going to work on containing my less than peaceful thoughts, and stopping my own actions the way I calmly soothe Jason’s less than kind ones. So maybe that’s the solution, only discuss the issue when I’m not angry about it anymore. No not so long that it’s stewed, fermented, and my argument has been systematically researched, but just not angry.
Maybe it really is seeing the big picture. Not the immediate problem at hand, but the view a decade from now. If it won’t matter then, it shouldn’t really matter now, or taking up my energy now. So I will believe that what I choose not to say is just as important as what I do choose to say. That grace, and kindness, and even forgiveness can sometimes only be found in silence. It’s not a wimpy way out, it’s taking the higher road, so to speak. It’s curbing your tongue when it aches to lash out. It’s being stronger, tougher, and more graceful. I think we all could use more grace in this world. A little less yelling at the barista who screwed up your latte, a little less throwing finger gestures at the guy who just cut you off in traffic. A few more smiles, a little more understanding, a bit more kindness. A few more steps when you need to walk away, and a bit more clarity before you wound with words.
So I’m going to hug my daughter a little embarrassingly tight. Not at school, of course, or in my bathrobe or anything. I know my limits. But sometimes it helps to see the world through the eyes of a young girl who hasn’t quite been jaded by it. And I’ll make sure she knows how proud I am of her, how special she is to me, and how much we all love her, because that’s one of the times that it’s not in the silence where grace and strength can be found. But right now, at 1 am, this is.
And as I head off to bed, I’ll only say…