i turned 31 earlier this month.  the day after we celebrated a new year and new decade.

amidst the celebrations of the new year, the goodbye’s to the old, the birthday wishes and cards, something never stopped whispering to me.  never stopped making its presence known.

in years past, i’ve always tried to write something about the passing of one year and the birth of another.  to somehow close out the past 365 days, and greet the first few days of the coming year.  this year was different, and honestly i’m not sure why yet.

i stopped today at a gas station to use the restroom.  (i know, bear with me).  and as i washed my hands my eyes were drawn to the sign we’ve seen in restrooms everywhere, employees must wash hands.  i am thankful for those signs, dont get me wrong.  but as i stood there, something occurred to me.  that sign, those words, are meaningless, if the employees of that establishment dont honor those words with their obedience.

wow.

our health, the safety of our food products, and quite possibly our very lives are dependent on a little sign stuck in the restroom of our favorite restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and gas stations.  and it’s not the words, for they carry no power, no might, no strength to provide safety or health.  it’s in the obedience to those words, that safety is had.  that our meals are healthy.  that life is good.

im realizing today that it’s not our words that have power, but its the power we give those words, over us and over others, that really matter.

throughout our lives we will have words of blessing spoken over us.  and we will also have words designed to wound and tear, thrown at us from every side.  and its not the words themselves that matter, but the value we ascribe to those words.  when a complete stranger hurls curses, you brush it off.  but if a close friend was to do so, the wound would be deep because we give more value to the words of a friend than those from a random passerby.

i wounded a friend friday night.  not intentionally.  but i did.  i hate typing those words.  not because i dont like admitting my mistakes, although i dont.  but because i hate wounding those i love.  i hate when my words, my actions, or lack thereof tell someone i care for deeply that i think less of them, or that i dont care about them.  i hate it, because when i’ve wounded someone, it means i could have blessed them.  i could have spoken words that brought life, affirmed, and blessed.

so maybe in a way this is me saying goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011.  maybe this is me welcoming 31.  and maybe this is me saying i’m sorry in the best way i know how.  because the person, the woman i wounded is an amazing creature.

in 2011, i want my words to mean something.  i want to my life to lay bare the words that are imprinted on my heart.  i want those i love to never question their value.  this year, i want my life to point to something bigger than me, something larger than the 9-5, the 2 day weekends and countless cups of coffee.

that little sign in the restroom isnt just a little sign.  it’s a marker.  it’s an announcement to all who read it that this establishment values its patrons, their health and well being.

you and i?  we may only be a passerby, or we may be the close friend.  no matter the situation, we will have moments to leave our imprint on those we come in contact with.   in 2011, i pray the imprints i leave behind whisper of more, point to freedom, and remind those around me that love waits for them.

Future of Forestry – Speak to Me Gently

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