Bubble Wrap

Jul 3, 2013

“What do you need most right now?”

Four close friends sat across the table. We’d finished an incredible lunch, almost Thanksgiving-like, followed by dark chocolate squares for dessert. Friendship and good food. What else could a girl possibly need?

Only I knew better. With in moments of gathering, we dove deep, fast. One revealed a health crisis. Another, a marriage in jeopardy. Others agonized over parenting challenges, career disappointments, and various other unknowns and sources of angst. We all had “something” that kept us awake at night.

But there we were, together. A gift. It’d be months before we found our way back to a table. So, before we left, I asked one more question.

“What do you need most right now?”

Silence. For the first time, our chatty lunch hushed to near silence as we thought of the one thing we needed most amongst so many needs. One at a time, we answered.

“Cheerleading,” said the first. Then another, “Connection.” Two more followed, adding “Discernment” and “Encouragement” to the list. Such worthy needs, important. Then, my turn.

“Bubble wrap.”

More silence. Like you, they didn’t understand. So I explained.

For most my life I’ve prided myself on crossed-off to-do lists. Order and responsibility make me feel worthy, as do hard work and fulfilled commitments.

Then life happened. And although sweet and good in many ways, everything changed in a moment. As a result, there’s fall out. Loads of it.

Phone calls aren’t returned. Emails and texts pile up unanswered. To-do’s end up lost and forgotten. Appointments are missed. Promises of coffee dates and get-togethers with friends remain unfulfilled. My orderly, everything-in-its-place, task-driven self has been replaced by a disconnected, forgetful, chronically late, overwhelmed (often snappy) imposter. Every day I feel like I’m letting someone down. Often, I am.

So what do I need most?

Bubble wrap.

A thick, cushion of grace for the many ways I misstep.

My friends smiled and nodded across the table. “We can do bubble wrap.” And with that, I sank deep into the assurance of friendship.

This is how grace transforms relationships. It reassures each member they are known and loved deeply, in spite of any lackings. It creates safety, builds trust, and infuses strength.

I need all of the above. So do you.

We all need to know a generous cushion surrounds us, and that when we stumble, our relationships won’t break. That when we’re late, forgetful, insensitive, unresponsive, or wake up grouchy and bare our teeth at everything that moves, our truest friends will look beyond the growl to the true heart within.Β 

It’s called grace.

I need it more than I can say. But for all my desire to receive it, I’m stingy in giving it. Even to the people across the table.

Can I be bold? Can I say something straight, in this bubble-wrap place, with you knowing I’m telling myself as much as I am you?

We’re far too easily offended.

Too easily ticked off, too easily wounded, too easily tempted to abandon relationship the moment it disappoints.

And we need to knock it off.

Because if we really want the relationships we say we do, we must let some things go.

Relationship, in it’s most beautiful, grace-full form, demands we refuse our emotional, knee-jerk reactions to the ordinary missteps and failures of others. Instead, we don bubble-wrap, and become people bent on buoying others with grace.

How? Well, it isn’t easy. We’re well-trained in reactions and retaliations. But you and I can start here:

  • Give the benefit of the doubt.
  • Be slow to take things personal.
  • Refuse to make everything about you.
  • Assume the best, not the worst.
  • Look beyond the external to what you know is true of her heart.
  • Let the little stuff go. Sometimes the big stuff, too.

Bubble wrap, baby. It’s how you and I continue to cheer and celebrate and encourage each other, in spite of the missteps.

What can you do to be bubble wrap to someone today?

22 Comments

  1. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    Okay Michelle, who gave you permission to read my mail (thoughts)?

    I just got back from a vacation with some family members and this morning I was rehearsing three separate comments that were made to me, just in case they came up in a phone call. What exactly was said and what was the way they were said? I need to get it straight so I can say my piece about it. Because, you know, I am perfect, and I would NEVER say something like that! Oi vey.

    Thank you for being willing to share and reminding me that I am just as fallible as the next guy. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Michele

      Ha! Sounds just like me. Since I have soooo much free time and energy, why don’t I analyze every little thing, let it make me sick and keep me up at night?!?! Ugh. Time to let some things go.

      Reply
  2. Amy Thedinga

    I can do bubble wrap! I need it too. Thanks for the reminder Michele.

    Reply
  3. Matt Appling

    Great thoughts, Michele! Glad I found your blog. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, Matt. Checking out your blog now.

      Reply
  4. Loretta Oakes

    Amen, Sista! And I just finished a post on my word that I was given at a lunch. I guess we all need lunch. πŸ™‚
    And dark chocolate…lots of chocolate. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Michele

      Yes, ma’am! Love you.

      Reply
  5. Angela Buzzetta

    What a great reminder! I love the bubble wrap analogy! There are days when everyone around me should be wrapped up…or maybe just me!!

    Reply
  6. Chris Monahan

    Bubble wrap might be the answer.
    Forgiving is one of the things at which I fail on a regular basis, ESPECIALLY (of) myself. Funny how God forgives me for anger and divorce and coveting, etc., but I don’t. I have learned to second (and third and fourth) chances to many others, but not myself.
    Bubble wrap will make me think. And if I don’t change soon/fast enough, I’ll pop a few bubbles to remind me.
    Cheers.

    Reply
    • Michele

      It’s so hard to accept forgiveness for ourselves, isn’t it? We think grace is beyond reach. Thankfully, time and again, God reminds us it is not.

      Reply
  7. Renee Swope

    Oh girl. You.Just.Dont.Even.Know.

    I needed this. I need bubble wrap grace so desperately – from others and from myself. I need and want to be okay with this new disheveled way of doing life {an interrupted, beautiful mess of mistakes and missed meals or appointments} Sooo thankful for the way you get it, the way you live it, write about it and make me feel okay about this new place Im in that is so much like yours. πŸ™‚

    Love you!!

    Reply
    • Crystal Paine

      Renee: I’m sending some bubble wrap your way. πŸ™‚ You are a gift and your real-ness is what I love most about you. Thank you for just being YOU!

      Michele: This was an incredible post. And I’ve seen you walk this out in such beautiful ways. Thank you for how you inspire me!

      Reply
      • Michele

        I agree … her real-ness is like a magnet. Inspiring and compelling. Love it!

        Adore you, Crystal! Thanks for the encouragement. I’m blessed by your presence in my life.

        Reply
    • Michele

      Oh, friend. You and I just “get” each other, don’t we?! Our lives are so similar, and I don’t believe our friendship is a coincidence or accident. Your courage and authenticity encourages me again and again. Love you right back.

      Reply
  8. Ilesha "coco" Graham

    Great post, Michele. Something that I can sooooo relate to. I recently spoke at a women’s retreat on the topic of grace and as I was sharing I realized how much I TRULY needed it and how often I did not extend it. Thanks for putting my feelings into words. . . . going to get my buble wrap

    Reply
  9. Edcel

    I’m so glad I found this blog. I love the bubble wrap analogy. Such an eye opener. Thanks.

    Reply
  10. Donna Bostick

    Love this!! Great message! Thanks Renee Swope for the bubble wrap and the hook-up!!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Glad you stopped by, Donna. So nice to meet you! Any friend of Renee’s is a friend of mine. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  11. chol

    Phone calls aren’t returned. Emails and texts pile up unanswered. To-do’s end up lost and forgotten. Appointments are missed. Promises of coffee dates and get-togethers with friends remain unfulfilled. My orderly, everything-in-its-place, task-driven self has been replaced by a disconnected, forgetful, chronically late, overwhelmed (often snappy) imposter. Every day I feel like I’m letting someone down. Often, I am.

    — this is exactly where I am most days. And so I need a bubble wrap too! what a nice metaphor and very well written blog. Thanks for sharing this! God bless you!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, Chol. Sending some bubble wrap your way.

      Reply
  12. Patti

    This blog was SUCH an encouragement to me… I know there are definitely things I can work on to improve the friendships I have been blessed with! Thanks for sharing in a ‘real’ way and from the heart!

    Reply

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