I used to be super proud of it. Sarcasm was my preferred method of communication. If you would have asked me about 8 years ago – I would have sworn I was the most hilarious human you knew. A quick wit, I thought, was something everyone appreciated – even when it was at their expense.
My mom told me I should cancel it for years. I thought she just didn’t get it because it’s not a big deal. And it many ways it wasn’t. Many years ago, I finally picked up on what she was saying. I was at work and a young lady came in that I’d spoken to often enough. We were associates, I suppose. I thought quite highly of her – she was very smart and put together. A generally cool chick. I don’t remember the specifics of our interaction, to be honest. But I do remember that she asked a question, I gave a trademark sarcastic quip and, unexpectedly, she paused. She looked at me with the faintest bit of hurt in her eyes and said, “I’m not stupid. That’s not what I thought.”
It surprised me that my words or what I thought were harmless exchanges, had power. I’d never examined them from another’s perspective before. I was so upset with myself that I made a wonderful human feel as if I thought she was less than. That day, was the day I had to ask myself if it was really everybody else that didn’t get it or if I was the one who’d been missing something all along:
These days, though my sarcasm game is still quite strong, I reserve it for my family as we have an understanding and a select few friends. For the general public, however, I tuck it safely away for the most part. Mostly because what I thought was hilarity was really protection. No one got too close. I erected a wall out of shrewdly crafted zingers. I didn’t let anyone in on what I really felt or thought. I was not going to let anyone break that wall down. I thought I was being smart (and funny) about keeping people at a distance. Turns out I was just keeping people at a distance.
Sometimes, I learned, we mistake walls for wisdom. We mistake shutting down for smartining up.
I thought I was being wise by not letting folks get too close since, like most of us, I’d been hurt by humans before.
Walls is, “I will never,” … I will never get hurt again. I will never fall for that again. I will never let that happen again. Etc.
Wisdom is, “I will if,” .. I will trust if . I will be
Walls keep everything at a distance and asks no questions. Wisdom invites things in with a discerning eye and decides how to proceed step by step.
Simply closing oneself off from relationship, opportunity, trusting others, or being vulnerable is keeping hurt out just as much as it is keeping hurt in. We create an incubator for our wounds until they are infected with bitterness. Once infection sets in, well, it starts to stink – things like insecurity or cynicism begin to manifest and – though you’ve become accustomed to the smell which has lulled you into a false state of safety, others can smell it coming. Those who stick around in spite of it are the ones who have become accustomed to their own scent and so they don’t mind yours.
That was my story. Until I decided to stop trying to figure out how to heal myself and asked God how to heal. In Proverbs 2 my dude Solomon says, “Look, ask for some wisdom. I promise you it will help you with whatever you finna do and whoever you finna do it with. It will hide you from the haters and point you toward your congratulators. Honestly. Truly.” This is a slight paraphrase, but the idea is the same.
Walls say, “I will be safe by staying who my hurt told me to be.”
Wisdom says, “I will be discerning as to who I let into my space as I become who I was meant to be.”
I’m asking God for wisdom instead of building walls, these days. I still slip back into old ways, but He is working on me by healing old wounds so they don’t affect present possibilities. Where have you built walls that wisdom should knock down?
This content originally appeared in abbreviated form on coffeetilchampagne.com