Ripple

We can’t un-create our memories, I told him. Some things, we’ll forget, but mostly we’ll remember the things that make us feel strongly. What do you think I will remember about this weekend?

He lay on the white sheets of the hotel bed, his face turned away from me. It was just the two of us—brother in the shower, dad getting coffee.

I wasn’t trying to shame him. Just make him think. I wasn’t sure which one was happening.

He wanted to be mad, so he didn’t say anything.

What you do—what you say—it affects other people. That’s why you must be very careful with your words and actions. There’s no do-over.

I went on about forgiveness and grace, something about how we write the stories of our life. He took his turn in the shower without a word or backward glance to me.

I just sighed.

While he showered, they went ahead to get breakfast—because there’s no asking a thirteen year-old to wait. But I did. I waited.

He came out in a rush of steam, white towel wrapped around his little body. Immediately, he lunged at me–wrapped his arms around my waist, buried his face in my chest.

I’m sorry, mommy, he said, melting in the steam.

It’s okay, honey.

I smoothed his wet hair with my fingers.

But I can’t take it back, he said. I can’t un-create it.

Oh, honey, I said, hugging his warm pink flesh. You just did.

We can’t un-create our memories, I had told him. But that’s exactly what we did in the next moments. We sat on that hotel bed and went through the events of the previous day and night together. But this time, we picked out the good parts. There was no mention of the bad attitudes, flares of temper, or sulky silences that colored the entire trip. I didn’t refer to how let down I felt– that this time I had so looked forward to had been nothing but a big bundle of stress and disappointment.

I wanted him to know. There are consequences to his choices. Surely he knows this? He just didn’t think about it in the previous twenty-four hours. He didn’t want to.

What he says and does affects me. What he says and does affects those around him.

I wanted him to know. But do I? What I say and do matters. It impacts my small world. And my small world impacts the world at large.

Scott Cairns, in his beautiful book The End of Suffering, reminds me:

…Every choice in our lives that separates us from communion with God, and every decision that clouds our awareness of His presence or erodes our relationships with on another has a profound and expanding effect—as the proverbial ripples in a pool…

As I forgave my young son and chose to let go of disappointment, I felt the ripple.

Trouble was, we had been a bowl full of ripples all weekend…the wrong kind. Like when I hissed out of the corner of my mouth to the boys that I might strangle their father any minute. His ripples had bumped up against me until I was a tidal wave. It was a weekend of roiling waters.

This idea—that we are all connected—is not a new one. We are the Body; we cannot be whole apart from one another. But have I really considered what this means?



…all of creation is implicated in this phenomenon we variously call salvation, redemption, reconciliation. Like the late theologian John Romanides, I suspect that our saving relationship with God is quite specifically “as the Body of Christ”; our salvation is not a discrete, individualized, private bargain struck, but comes by way of our continuing participation in divine life, as a member of a holy body that is at once both alive and life-giving. (Scott Cairns, The End of Suffering).

How do I communicate this to my young son? How do I commit it to my person?

We are not alone in this thing. We need each other. It’s much easier for me to be aware of our interconnectedness when the one my ripple washes over sits beside me. It’s easy when I have felt the ripples of his actions. But what of my other parts? The ones in other countries gasping for air, for clean water, for…love? What of those in the inner cities who know no other way of life than violence? The homeless?

As I hold my boy in my arms, I feel the world in my arms.

Oh, Lord. Be the stone. Let me be a ripple of your splash.

Comments

  1. says

    Profound principle. This is so foundational to us having the ability to be used as salt and light. I, too, must constantly be reminded by His Spirit that my spirit is communicating the deepest thoughts of my heart to those around me, even when I think those thoughts are hidden. I must allow Him to sift, sanctify and captivate every single thought. Thank you for this beautiful picture of Repentance and Restoration.

  2. says

    Your timing is impeccable. Or should I say the ripple that just washed over me. My ripple or lack there of effects a lot of souls right under my roof. I tend to cling onto my Dad’s ripple which was to work hard and the family gets the trickle down…the crumbs off the table from me. It’s a constant undercurrent that keeps rising to do me in. My wife is very aware and graciously reminds me to be in the moments instead of outside of them anyalizing them. We are working to meet in the middle. She in the moment and I outside the moments. Thank you for your vunerable post. I pray that ripple expands around here.
    And for you may the last line of God being the stone thrown in be ever close to the front of your mind.

  3. says

    I’m so thankful that He promises to use ALL things for good. There are remembrances and when we deal with those “life moments” well we are spared the memory of the feelings yet remember the depth of what happened and how God turned it around. This is a great post…remembering that we are a ripple is so amazing yet with awe I must tread as if on holy ground…for where I go He goes and He resides in others along my way.

  4. says

    You throw your words and they ripple through me. It is the struggle of memories we cannot un-create that weighs heavy on me these days. I echo your prayer, “Oh, Lord. Be the stone. Let me be a ripple of your splash.” Thank you for these words this morning.

  5. says

    What a thoughtful and PROMISING post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your situation with us. It makes me feel like I’m not alone!!
    Have a blessed Monday!

  6. says

    Thank you for this. I had that kind of weekend, too, and it’s good to remember that both the trouble and the hope are real, and real at the same time. We stumble, we fall, and throw the offending rock into the stream so we don’t stumble again. And then we rejoin our companions. Bless you.

  7. says

    Thank you for this post. Many years ago I remember someone saying that everything that we say either lifts up or brings down. It’s true, I think. We have the power in our little worlds to bring peace, share a kindness and spread his love.
    Andie

  8. says

    They understand these things, better than I think we imagine. But like us, sometimes they “want to be mad.” And it goes from there. And I remember how often it’s me instead of them.

    Thanks for this, Laura. Reminds me of important things when I’m dealing with mine…

  9. says

    I love the idea of the ripple Laura. In our own lives, there is really no way we can avoid affecting those around us. Our words, our actions, our inaction – they all have consequences.
    You have such a beautiful way with words my sweet friend.

  10. says

    As always, Laura, your words squeeze my heart.

    And how wise you were to say nothing more and let him cool off–or melt. Sometimes we can talk too much and create more ugly, boiling waters. At least I can.

    I want to be a gentle ripple of the Lord’s splash, too.

    Thank you.

  11. says

    Obviously he has seen humility and pleas for forgiveness in you prior to this event. It is so easy to choose the same reactive road of a sour attitude, but to walk on His solid ground, that is hard. Thank you for sharing your heart and His love.

    Blessings.

  12. says

    Perfect timing for me to read this. Trying to stay afloat in the ripples that have occured as a result of parenting my 16 year old daughter…my words, her words. And my prayer being that not only she, but I, would be aware of the ripples that we create, the memories that we want to create vs un-create.
    And the Lord – the weight of His being the stone – His glory – being the ripples in my life, and the life of my child.
    Hear my prayer, oh Lord.

  13. says

    Deep thoughts here.
    Deep calls to deep – it reaches beneath the ripples that we see up on the surface. Maybe that is grace, too? The way it works on us in the deep places, calling us to repentance once again.

  14. says

    Thank God for the ripples that are fresh from Him. I am always amazed He can bubble up His grace, even when I am creating those same ripples that seem to come from nowhere.. but, really have been deep inside me. I sometimes how God could entrust these little ones to me… and then, the ripples He sends to us. And then, I understand — it is to give me grace, and show me His love, His fountain will never fail to flow. What a wonderful, lifegiving post, Laura!

  15. says

    Oh, such deep hurt! I’m feeling the pain but glad it was healed and new memories created.
    So true that everything we say has a rippling effect not just on those closest to us but throughout the Body and the world as it touches others through the one we’ve hurt.
    Thank you for the post.
    Janis

  16. says

    With every choice we make, we plant a seed. For blessing or for cursing.

    Ripples indeed; I think youth prevents us from thinking about those ripples, but with age comes wisdom regarding their impact. You’re doing a good job of training your young ones to think early on about those ripples.

    Beautifully written here, Laura. Beautifully lived.

    peace~elaine

  17. says

    This is powerful Laura and tender. As a Mommy and a Grandma I have had those moments…

    The ripples…

    The consequences for choices made…

    Thank you for sharing with us precious Laura.

    Much love!

  18. says

    Your transparency is refreshing. Thank you for your words and for the reminder that we all need about how what we do, what we say, how we act affects others. Thank you for the hope that you also share.
    I linked up to your post on my blog.
    Thank you for what you have shared in this post.
    blessings
    ~a

  19. says

    God was speaking these words to us this week as well–the ripples were more like waves threatening to overturn us all. The older I get the more I see how interconnected we all are. I love how you share real life lessons so beautifully. Blessings!

  20. says

    I wish I could undo things in my life. But like you said, you can’t…but then again, through a few words and a contrite heart, it’s possible.

    Repentance…to God and to others is a powerful tool

  21. says

    Oh my word… or my words… I cannot uncreate those moments or the words that I said. Thank you for giving some life to the moments where I have spoken harshly. I can’t unsay but I can ask their forgiveness.

  22. says

    I think I most appreciate your human here. The you didn’t know what to do. You didn’t give a list of steps to get to where you got – you just lived it, even though it was awkward and somewhat messy.

    You give me courage to keep trying, when I want to give up.

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