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Broken Records: What Is Worth Repeating

When I was a little girl, I spent hours listening to records in my room. Recently, my mom asked if she should continue to store some of those family-favorite LPs. I remember long pauses between our “maybes,” and I honestly can’t remember what we decided together. We talked about the record player–not the one I used to the point of wearing it out, but a sturdier one purchased after my brother was born–that still works. I can imagine that if she continues to store them and I come across them some day, that I might want to listen to one or two. Maybe all of them. Yet, I am certain that many of them bear scratches that cause them to skip or stay in the same groove to repeat the same words over and over.

It’s true that few enjoy listening to a broken record.

Yet, don’t we find ourselves repeating the same things over and over again? Aren’t we all in need of repair when we can’t move passed a groove made in the past?

There are some phrases that ought to be repeated over and over again. I have found myself saying these three things often lately. Some people may get tired of hearing them. But, I don’t. Some people probably wish I would quit saying them. But, I won’t.

I love you.

Thank you.

I’m sorry.

I want to focus on the last one for this post. Not only was it my writing prompt from yesterday, but along with the other two, it was a phrase I needed to hear and had to say last week.

I’m sorry.

I can be irritated with someone or frustrated about a situation, but if I hear a sincere, “I’m sorry,” a sudden flood of release comes over me. I can only explain it as a grace and mercy I do not possess except through the One who gave me His grace and mercy. I am somehow able to express acceptance and see my own fault in the matter. Sometimes I am the one who shares regret with someone knowing I have done wrong to them in some way. In most cases, I have sensed genuine acceptance. When this happens, there is almost an immediate resolve of conflict.

But, that doesn’t mean I don’t wrestle with hurt feelings. I’m sure others wrestle with their feelings, too, if I have hurt them. After all, isn’t there still a scratch on the record? If I play back the situation in my mind, don’t I continue to hear all the skips and get stuck in that groove unable to move forward?

I think we all do.

Why else would the apostle Peter ask if forgiving someone seven times was enough? Why else would Jesus say we need to forgive seventy-times-seven? Accepting an apology can be instant and continuing in the relationship can result. Maybe we can sense in a conversation or situation when that familiar tone is coming, and we can move the needle before it skips or gets stuck. But, when we’re alone, isn’t it easy to leave that needle in the scratch?

How do we fix the broken records in our minds?

If I were to compare our minds to an LP, I would say we need to apply something to resurface the record or glue it back together. It is possible. I googled it. It must be true.

But, what do we need to apply to our minds to fix that scratch and move that needle?

Forgiveness.

I know I keep saying that. But, how to we forgive that ugly scratch we can visibly see in our relationships?

I can only tell you what has worked–and continues to work–in me.

Prayer. I use the trigger of recorded memories that just won’t stop repeating to pray for those who have caused a particular wound in my life. I pray for them. I figure there is something deeply etched in their own lives that needs repairing. I know from experience that I can’t fix that part of their record. I do believe there is One who can. I don’t need to search for that truth on Google either. I search His Word. I pray those words. I believe they work. They have worked in and through me. I know those scratches are still under the surface, but I know that by His grace applied they are not easily seen by others. And when I have trouble moving the needle, I ask Him to do it for me. That works every time.

Give thanks. When we pray for others, there is a release. We need to be thankful for that. We need to say thank you to others, that we appreciate them for who and what they are. Then we can forget what and who they are not.

Keep loving. I know it’s a cliché. I know we’ve all heard it a thousand times before. I know there are some people who don’t know how to say it. I know there are times we simply don’t want to say it. And maybe it would be weird if we said it out loud to a complete stranger in the grocery store. But, maybe we show it when we stay back and let the person go first. Maybe by our eyes, that person will know we are smiling behind our masks. But, when we can take off our masks–at home, with those who make us feel safe–let’s do more than smile. Maybe it’s okay for those who know our record well to see those deep scratches and listen to our story skip and move along that jagged groove one more time.

Then maybe it will be time to keep the songs we love and know by heart on our mental playlists and erase the ones we need to get out of our heads for good.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

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