Hurricane Dorian won’t send either rain or wind this far inland, but it sure did share its super abundance of critters. Not only was it difficult to get anything done at work today, relationships were getting frayed.
We have a rule for those days when the critters outclass our character: KEEP YOUR CLAWS SHEATHED!
The demonic attack will pass. We don’t want to create a relational mess that will last long after the critters have gone.
By midday, it was evident I was toxic, so I finished the must-do, and left, to see if I could find some place that would allow me to get emotionally grounded again.
I tried a variety of historically soul soothing activities but it was pretty much a no go. By four, I decided to get some lunch. Maybe food would help. I picked out a familiar restaurant I had not been to for a year, and was quickly seated.
“Jackie” was my server. She could tell I walked in with a thundercloud. We chatted lightly and in the process she talked about her ten year old son, and her choice to work this job. She explained that she could make more money elsewhere, but this allowed her to make enough, in four shifts, so she could spend more time with him.
Even though she was well settled in her decision, and even though I was not putting anything judgmental on her, there was still the burr of defensiveness as she shared the outline of a bump in her life, with me, a grumpy stranger.
She left with my order, and when she came back, I said, “You know, Jackie, anyone can make lots of money. It takes someone special to make lots of memories.”
And scurried away to regroup.
On paper, she is still a single mom. I don’t know what happened and I don’t care, because she will never be a single mom again. She is now someone special. And her specialty is making memories.
I love the power of a word picture to dress a scar with beauty.
That was the obvious beauty today.
The less obvious one was inside me. I didn’t want a chatty server. I crawl into a hole when I am hurting, and I simply wanted a sterile exchange of food for money. But when she was engaging, I leaned into it, because I know that God often meets me with emotional life, when I am willing to give out of my emptiness to others.
This time, it didn’t happen that way. It is two hours later, Megan has gone home, and I am back at the office alone.
And still toxic.
But I find it beautiful that God was willing and more than able to generate a life-giving word picture in my sour mind, and to deliver it untainted to Jackie, who apparently merited a big hug today, from Father.
Copyright September 2019 by Arthur Burk
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ValuesBy : Susan Wade On September 12th 2019
I love how this blog arrives in my inbox just as I am working step four again, with a focus on strengths, values, assets and talents. Now I understand why my head has been knocked off this year since being recognised by the leader as an elder in the church. Hello painful lifestyle, I'd better embrace you instead of wondering why you keep chasing me. Thank you for sharing, Arthur.
toxicity stinksBy : Cyndi Shanklin On September 11th 2019
I've been pondering this, and love the lesson, to keep my claws sheathed when I am in a snarly, snarky place. How amazing that His timing put you in a place to bless a young mom who probably got a boatload of criticism for her decisions. and what an example of being willing to move out of your hole when you saw an opportunity. To be toxic, but not walk in it and spread it, is empowering. The less we are, the more God is.
HonestyBy : Karen Silva On September 9th 2019
Thank you for being transparent, real and honest. Truth and honesty are major learning tools for me.
Thank you Arthur!By : Caroline Obonyo On September 9th 2019
I needed this wonderful reminder about the importance of creating memories. It has dressed my scars with beauty too
Self-realizationBy : Estelle On September 9th 2019
Thank you for sharing a struggle. We tend to think our teachers and leaders knows everything and sometime a pain or struggle goes beyond our knowledge and experience...then there is God... ALWAYS...He is never wrong!
So good of a point!By : Tabatha Bias On September 8th 2019
Thank you so much, Arthur, for sharing this point. I used to feel so useless and undeserving of an opportunity to let Him move through me after I messed up, sometimes by just having a rotten attitude, but I realized that He still has plans no matter how much I messed up and He still loves people even after I have been feeling worthless.
One time I was feeling down and couldn't seem to come out of it. I asked Him what my problem was and He told me that I needed to do something nice for someone. So, when I am having a hard time emotionally, I try to be intentional about encouraging or speaking life into someone else. It's so amazing how often that not only benefits them but me, too. I love to encourage people! :D
I know your situation may be the same kind of issues but the point that we can still speak life even when we don't feel "highly anointed and on top of the world" is huge.
Your point about keeping the claws sheathed when the enemy strikes is excellent language that I am probably going to share. I mean how many times have we as people used the excuse to be nasty to people bc we are having a hard time. Father, please help us not to get sucked into the enemies plans, etc.
Critter GrumpsBy : Sandy On September 7th 2019
We all get Critter Grumps. My share is rather large. But coming out of yourself to give grace to another, now that’s a reflection of the Father. Good for you!
Self CareBy : Barbara McMillan On September 7th 2019
Maybe take your coffee outside where you can drink in the goodness of God in the midst of His beauty.
Whatever you choose to do to recalibrate, I bless you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to feel the warmth of His love. When you give from a place of hurting, you are acting like His Son and that brings pleasure to our Father. :). Good job Arthur!
toxicity stinksBy : Cyndi Shanklin On September 7th 2019
Thank you for sharing. Some days the load seems to weigh us down more, and trying to find a place to quiet our battered spirit, soul, and body just won't happen. You end up wading in the swamp willingly so often to help us who are stuck there. Bless you for out of that hurting place, blessing a young mom. Sometimes the most positive thing about being in a toxic place is the relief when it's gone, but you gave out fragrance.
Beauty for a scarBy : Joan Westaway On September 7th 2019
A word picture to dress a scar with beauty...
Dunno how God does it! For you Arthur... for anyone! But he does!
Recent helplessness and in the deep depths of that, was prompted to speak life of beauty of design... and seeing the shift... Was still physically so helpless... but I wasn't completely helpless!
Nana Joan speaking God's perspective to a young buck... who'll never be the same again!
Awe of a God who can turn the tables like this!
And I'm seeing a flower blooming over that scar! Thanks Arthur!
Re:Two BeautiesBy : Valerie Roth On September 7th 2019
I think it is beautiful that you pushed past-to be the delivery man to a precious young one.
WowBy : Jenny Roux On September 6th 2019
I really appreciate your honesty about having a bad day, and the fact that God can still use us to be life-giving in that state. Bless you, Arthur, for being transparent. That in istelf is beautiful.
AmazingBy : Daphne Kwan On September 6th 2019
You have definitely made memories Arthur, just beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the beautyBy : Cynthia Harris On September 6th 2019
That's very beautiful. I definitely got tears at the point where she had to go "regroup." And I couldn't help thinking that, as you reframed her paradigm into seeing herself as a maker of memories, that it probably had extra power because it was coming from a man. Whatever her story is, God chose to give her that particular word from one of His male servants. Good for you to lean into the delivery, especially when you were in pain.
Thanks for the honestyBy : Renée On September 6th 2019
Thanks so much for being transparent and honest about your day, which in the end seemed to neutralise any toxicity you may have had, maybe even reverse it completely and bring forth something life-giving to us all!
The ContagionBy : Peta Roberts On September 6th 2019
Wow Arthur! I can relate! Rough day today on the business front for me too. Looking forward to our family Shabbat meal and letting go of this day.
Toxic dayBy : Nancy tucker On September 6th 2019
My sincere hope is that you have been able to move out of the toxicity, I hate it when I’m like that, even a few hours or a day can seem excessively damaging to oneself ! ? Nancy
Dignity from ToxicityBy : Gordon Haggerty On September 6th 2019
Wow! Dignity from toxicity. With God ALL things are possible! He knows how to give a hug, even when we’re not in the mood. I love our King!
Toxic..real.By : Jason Blaiklock On September 6th 2019
thank you for the transparency and honesty, a willingness to be warts-and-all honest is disarming and inspiring.
A lovely moment.By : Robin Lawrimore Lewis On September 6th 2019
Thanks for sharing this, Arthur. Jackie opened up and God's love through you fell right in. Thanks, too, for sharing about the toxicity of the storm. I am still under it some today but it's beginning to lighten. I don't comment often, but your blogs and this group make me feel less weird. So thanks for that, too!
lovelyBy : Tonia Borowski On September 6th 2019
Shedding tears at the beauty imparted to Jackie, and thanks to God from my heart at your willingness to show love. Arthur, may that same life-giving love be imparted to you.
Beautiful and replicable!By : Jenny Collins On September 6th 2019
"But I find it beautiful that God was willing and more than able to generate a life-giving word picture in my sour mind, and to deliver it untainted..."
Love that. Thank you for leaning into writing and sharing your experience with us. I've been determined not keep my claws sheathed, since there really does seem to be an onslaught lately! I took a similar approach this morning and decided to bless others who God highlighted to me to be life-giving to. One is a believer facing an onslaught in her business because she refuses to compromise sonship principles. I modeled some of your Got Predators teaching for her. She responded positively.
The other God pointed out is a pre-Christian author/photographer on the East Coast who I've only connected with through Facebook. She posted about the twisted saga of delays with the publisher on her photo book (of so much beauty!) I blessed her endurance and her book to birth in the right time. She thanked me and said "Endurance is definitely what I need :-) I can't tell you how much I appreciate your kind words!"
God is so good to give us the grace to be life-giving, even when there are few reserves to pour out from. Really appreciate how you show this in action.
Hats off!By : Dana Bertean On September 6th 2019
Hats off for being able to be life-giving in spite of the spiritual attacks!
Thank youBy : Deborah On September 6th 2019
I love this. Thank you Arthur for your transparency and your humanness - and your kindness.
Good wordsBy : Anne Alexander On September 6th 2019
Lately I've been toxic too, fragile after more 'out'/people time than this introvert is comfortable with over an extended length of time. Add to that the end of a period of study, and challenges about what to do with the degree. Then there's the aging body, and too little solitude with Jesus. Caught myself grieving with tears as I drove to the office this afternoon, prompted by a good honest Psalm-ish song, lament and praise mixed liberally.
It's amazing what God can do with us fragile and sinful kids (even MKs) and good to be reminded that sometimes (even if it feels like it won't please colleagues) avoiding polluting the office atmosphere may be the best choice. Sleep, good healthy home-cooked food, and time with Jesus are helping.
Can't wait to get my hands on Nurturing the Spirit. Maybe it will help with some of the conundrums about how I should proceed.
Blessings on your work and life, from one fragile human to another.
CrittersBy : Paula Kochanek On September 6th 2019
That was awesome. I was having an uproar day as well. Thank you.