Down Beside the Sea

When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.
My holes were empty like a cup
In every hole the sea came up
Til it could come no more.
Robert Louis Stevenson

When I was little, my mother used to quote that poem to me, and since then I’ve taught it to my children. Sand. Surf. Sea. I’m at the beach this week with my family, enjoying some down time. One of my favorite times to visit the beach is early in the morning before the heat of the sun and crowds. I like to walk along the surf, feeling the sand between my toes, the wind in my hair, and occasionally letting the water bubble around my ankles.

This morning on my walk, I was thinking about sand and how it gets everywhere and into everything. It burrows under your clothes, sticks to your skin as if its been glued on, and somehow no matter how many showers I take it ends up in my bed. Sand is like words. Words spoken by others have a way of sticking to us. Sometimes that’s good if they are encouraging words. But what about words that are harsh or painful? Words can exfoliate, buffing off the dead and reinvigorating the soul. But it can irritate, getting into eyes, and scratching delicate skin until it wounds. Words can be good and bad. Sometimes we need to hear the truth in order to help us. Yet, sometimes words can be aimed to injure.

Collecting words in a jar and holding onto happy memories can give us strength and hope. Yet, if words stick to us rub and scratch and continue to wound, then shouldn’t we get rid of them? How do you sweep away painful words from your past and hold onto those that have brought life?

2 thoughts on “Down Beside the Sea

  1. Cathy C.

    Great question, Leanna… and great blog of yours too by the way!! I am in the process of living this out – where I meditate on the goodness of God and let Him transform my perspective on things, especially when I’ve been hurt by someone’s words. The more I seek spiritual revelation from God that “we are all equal at the foot of the cross”, then the more I see that I’m just like the person who hurt me. Sweeping away painful words for me starts with seeing how I am not perfect either so I can embrace forgiveness, and then seeking God for the next steps…maybe I need to create a boundary so this person is not a part of my life anymore, even though I still forgive. Or maybe I need to seek healthy communication and reconciliation so we walk in love with each other, as Jesus defines love. I can most identify this with a friend I had for years who continued to say hurtful things to me, putting me down, comparing how great her kids were to how not-so-great mine were, etc. I was always so hurt by her words to me. I sought God’s direction and He led me to forgive her and then lovingly set a boundary where I limited how much I gave of myself to her: my time, sharing my heart matters. I don’t know what God does with that when we forgive and set boundaries, but I believe this sets up the other person to be in a better position to also receive His life and healing. So He really ends up sweeping away the painful words when He replaces them with His life-giving perspective and specific actions for us to follow that result in love; His defintion of love!

  2. Leanna Ellis

    Hi, Cathy! Very well said. I so agree. It took me a long time to learn how to set boundaries. When I would, the enablers around me would accuse me of not forgiving. But that was not the case. Forgiveness is very important, vital. But I do believe in setting boundaries. I also believe harsh words must be replaced and a great way to do that is just what you said: meditate on the promises of God. Thanks for sharing your experiences today. Blessings!


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