Make no mistake about it. I love red raspberries. I honestly do! But I am fairly certain my raspberry bushes were laughing at me this week! Pretty sure those juicy, red, sassy little berries were mocking me! Were they, perhaps, remembering the same conversation from several years ago that I was? The specific conversation. The exact words!
It was June of that year. My husband had been away for several days at a retreat with some of the men from church. It had been a very sultry and demanding week, and I knew he would arrive home in need of rest before Sunday’s busyness. So I decided to surprise him! I dragged the push mower out of the shed, filled it with gasoline, and began mowing the lawn. I toiled for several hours with numerous hydration breaks. Please note that the “self”-propel of said mower is whoever is pushing it at the moment, and at that moment, the self was me! Basically, I’m a wimp, but I’m a wimp with will-power. I completed the yard and got ready to pick up my husband. Tired as I was, I must say, I was quite pleased with myself at how relieved my husband was about to be! I’d been a good little wifey!
After loading his gear into the car, we made our way toward home. At that point, I told my husband that I had a surprise for him, that I had done something that would make him very happy. After some teasing, I proudly announced to him that I had mowed the grass for him. I informed him that I had done a meticulous job, getting up under all of our big old trees and right along the busy fence in the backyard. What followed were not the shouts of glory and acclamation that I’d anticipated. Rather, there was a moment of awkward silence. Then we had that two-sentence conversation which included those exact words I will never forget. He quietly looked at me with a patient but questioning look on his face and said, “Umm, how are my raspberry bushes doing?”
The silence that followed was a bit longer before anything came to mind with which to respond. I answered with another now infamous question. “Oh, umm . . . what exactly did they look like?”
He was so sweet, but I read huge disappointment in his face. He understood that my intentions had been honorable, but I felt absolutely horrible as I slowly realized that the likelihood was high that I had razed his tender berry bushes to the ground.
Alas, I had, indeed, destroyed any future hopes of prosperity those bushes might have had. It has become, over time, a funny story, an oft-repeated phrase in the family. My husband has since planted more raspberry bushes and has shown me exactly where they are located. Those rigorous bushes have come back with a vengeance, slowly taking over the view outside our picture window. We’ve enjoyed much jam and many pies from their abundance. And I’m fairly certain that while I am picking, they are whispering, “Yes, Linda. This is what we look like!”
Are there some exact words and conversations that are forever lodged in your memory? Thankfully, in this instance, there were no harsh or unkind words spoken. I did not realize that the simple conversation that day would forever be in my mind. It makes me chuckle now.
A few other sets of words come to mind as being funny or encouraging. Some have become lifelong challenges and motivators. Some were delivered as instruction; others were spoken off the cuff or in passing.
But there are other exact words that have been seared into my heart and mind that do not make me laugh. There are not many, but they are words I truly wish I could forget. They are words that have become a part of me and have had a part in making me who I am today. They are words I have had to outlive and overcome, to disallow them the opportunity to deter me from accomplishing what I knew was right for my life. I’ve had to ignore the hurt and disappointment and to remember that perhaps they were spoken from another hurting heart.
Now I ask myself this: What has been the effect of the words I have spoken? Are there words that have made a lifetime impact in someone else’s life, words that will be remembered for many years to come? Perhaps I have long-forgotten what I said while the words still linger in the mind of the hearer. Oh, how I pray that what is remembered has only been a delight, a challenge, or an encouragement to those around me. I pray that regardless of what has left my lips in the past, that the words I speak from this point will be thoughtful, helpful, and uplifting. Because I know and you know the power of words: they can change a life.
Matthew 12:34 “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”