There are moments we all want to forget and erase from our memory and everyone elses as well. We wish we could quietly tuck them away, like an old t-shirt on the bottom of the stack, never to be worn or seen again.
My senior year in high school I went on a Spring Break trip with a group of friends to Fort Lauderdale. We wanted to find fun, but not too much fun. Actually, the place we picked was north of there and rather dead, but we found ways of making and creating our own fun. Fortunately, I did not do anything that I would majorly regret; but there were some silly and embarrassing moments, which would be nice to erase.
Having worked with college students for a while, I often hear stories of students who regret what occurred on their Spring Break or wish they could forget about it all together. Sometimes there are lasting consequences from that week and they wish they could escape them. I also have talked with students who go into a Spring Break trip thinking they will be the strong one, the good friend, the influencer, or the “soberish” one in the midst of the partying and freedom. They often return disappointed with the way things went down– finding they are not as strong or in control as they think.
It isn’t just Spring Breaks that we end up regretting, but sometimes it is just daily things in life.
Needing more erasers
There are points in our life when it seems like there are not enough “erasers” — not enough guilt, shame, reassurance from friends to erase our unmentionable things. We attempt to stuff them away, and forget, and then something else soon comes along we wish we could also erase. Can you relate to this a little bit?
What do you want to erase?
At this point in my life, I don’t feel tempted and tested on Spring Break trips. Lately, I find there are other things I would like to have an eraser for. I would like to have a huge “word eraser” to erase my unnecessary, quickly spoken, or sharp words that spill too soon off my lips. There are times I say things that I should have paused longer before I said them. Or, I have too many words and I am not a good listener. There are other times, I sense my words are too sharp with my kids or husband. And then there are the times that I say things I feel a little embarrassed by, for it was hurtful or insensitive towards a another person. I wish I could just hide, and everything would go away and be erased.
Wisdom for the unmentionable
Proverbs is a book in the bible full of unmentionable things. It is also full of wisdom for life and thoughts for our words. It says things like this:
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Proverb 10:19
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverb 15:1
The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens his lips comes to ruin. Preoverb 13:3
Whether our unmentionable things are our loose words or loose ways, I find Proverbs has much to say about both. Unrestrain in choices or words does not bring life or joy in the long run. It may feel good or seem ok in the moment or for a season, but eventually it leads to “ruin.”
A Greater Eraser
Proverbs also speaks to my need for a “great eraser.” I want to hide, but I need something better than that.
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgression. Proverb 11:12
He who conceals his transgression (sin) will not prosper, but he who confessed them will find compassion. Proverb 28:13
By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil. Proverb 16:6
As I notice my unrestraint:
- I can quickly (the quicker the better) turn to God silently in my thoughts, admit my wrong and ask for forgiveness. He forgives all of my sin.
- I remember His deep love and compassion for me. He does not want to leave me in my loose words or ways, but wants me to become more like Christ. Therefore, as I see my unthoughtful, or unnecessary words spill out, I remember that He is not done with me yet. He has so much more for me.
- I can let go of my pride and self-protection. Everyone says things or does things that they regret, and I am one of them. Because of these things I may be misunderstood, or even poorly thought of– finding myself needing to let go of others approval. Through this, I can also learn to give others a break and extend an extra measure of grace to them.
- I want to say I am sorry for my words. Last year at the end of a bible study I was teaching, I said a few things that could have been hurtful to one of the girls. I didn’t mean to hurt her- but I started talking too much. Afterwards I felt uncomfortable about what I had said (I can’t even remember now what it was about, but I do remember the time). As I thought about it, it weighed me down. I knew what I needed to do. I apologized to her and then to the group the next week. The weight was soon gone- as if it had been erased.
- I need to prepare myself for situations before hand– this may be by avoiding certain situations, walking away from a conversation, or being held accountable by a friend. In this way, we are choosing restraint- this is wisdom.
The only thing that can erase unmentionable spring breaks, words or choices is God’s love and compassion, which covers all things. Jesus bled. He bore our sin. He gives new beginnings. He longs to be compassionate towards us right now for each thing. He stands with us and not opposed to us. He is the great Eraser.
Overflow: allowing God’s ways to touch our lives and then our lives to pour out to others
What would you like to erase right now?
Spend some time in Proverbs as a reminder of the things above.
Is there someone you need to apologize to?