It was one of those small, casual comments that you can never forget. In hindsight, I feel worse for the person who said it so cavalierly than I do for the person who received it. But still, it was one of those sentences you can never put back once it's escaped your lips.
We were on the beach with a group of friends, over 14 years ago now, and my sweet husband (then boyfriend) had just received some amazing news. Great news. Life changing news. Something had come to fruition that he'd worked really hard for and it was something we'd genuinely prayed for together for months on end. And as we told the friends who were gathered around us, one of them said the stinging words,
"Wow, I really didn't think that would happen. It seems like things never really work out for you."
We both noticed the comment but didn't acknowledge it for years. Until one day a long while later we talked about how crappy it sounded and how often it was spoken over him in that season.
Have you ever had the feeling that you wish you could show everyone your accolades when you meet them? Catch them up to speed on the things that have gone well for you so they know where you stand? I often have the exact opposite desire sometimes. I wish when I meet people, i could hand them a snapshot of those years for us - the years where things never worked out for us, where everything we tried seemed broken, where we seemed to fulfill the negative declarations spoken over our lives.
"There's Nick and Jess. Things don't seem to work out for them. He doesn't get the jobs he applies for. She can never lose the baby weight. Their kids seem to constantly be sick. They even miscarried, failed at that. Did you know she had an Etsy shop and no one purchased anything? Not one thing, for six whole months. I'm pretty sure the only reason they're making it is because of the kindness of their family and church - they can barely support themselves."
Maybe that whole paragraph never escaped anyone's lips - but it sure felt like it might have. And if so, it would have been true. It wouldn't have been the whole picture, but it would have been true of the circumstances.
I was reading this morning in Genesis about Jacob and Essau and how Jacob stole Esau's blessing. The whole idea of the blessing is so interesting and weird - and yet - it takes me right back to that day on the beach. This idea that one person's proclamations over your life can be so strong and after Jacob swindled his dad for his brother's blessing, there was nothing left for Esau.
His dad says to him: "I've made him your master, and all his brothers his servants, and lavished grain and wine on him. I've given it all away. What's left for you, my son?"
But can we just fast forward a few pages? Jacob stays gone for years and years, gets married, goes through all kinds of hullaballoo and eventually comes back home to where Esau is. He pictures Esau furious at him, wanting to kill him. Why wouldn't he be mad? Jacob got the blessing and there was nothing left for Esau. He sends gifts and a ton of fanfare ahead of him, all hoping to win Esau's favor - to make up for the harm he caused in stealing all the blessing.
But this is what goes down instead:
Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?” “To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said. But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.” Genesis 33:8-9
What we find is that Esau's gratefulness and his forgiveness and his graciousness seems to have busted through any lack of blessing he received. He is not defined or held captive by the identity of "the one who things don't work out for" or "the one who's brother took all the blessing". He is Esau. He is blessed. And he is happy for his brother.
Hey sister: I don't where you stand in life today. I don't know if you're feeling like things always work out for you, or never do. I don't know if you're living under some negative words spoken over you or if everyone's always told you you can do anything and will conquer the world.
But I know that I know that God's word is stronger. And I know that I know that you're blessed. And I know that I know that He's drawn pleasant lines for you. And I know that I know that He's mighty in you. And I know that ANY PAGE can turn and every untrue word spoken over your life can and will be reversed by the blood of Jesus.
Stomp your feet. Hold open your hands. Put your eyes on Jesus. You already have plenty, in Jesus' name. And things work out for you when He wills them to because He has a GOOD PLAN for your life and His love is strong and mighty. I think what shifted Esau's life the most was HIS perspective, his response, his OWN declaration over his life. And that's the one thing we have control over that no one else does.
Let's speak life and truth and hope with abandon, over ourselves and all those we encounter. Let's speak words of life, just like our Father would.