This week’s word: WHOLE! In Episodes 4 & 5 we talked about a direct, intentional question Jesus asked a lame man: Do you want to be whole? So, let’s look at this word and discover how we can move through life from a W.H.O.L.E. place. Oftentimes, when we are in a healing journey, either physical or emotional or spiritual, true healing and freedom comes AFTER a very hard challenge or circumstance or relationship. Let’s not stop short of our blessing. Let’s stay with and pray through to the other side of our pain in order to experience FREEDOM!
Speaker 1: Words matter. They can change the course of your day. Just listen. You are brave. You are stronger than you think. You have value, worth, and dignity. Don’t you feel better already? Welcome to Speak Healing Words, the podcast. Join author and board certified life coach Janell Rardon as she opens a very important conversation about the power of our words.
Janell Rardon: Hello and welcome to Speak Healing Words Episode Six. I am so happy you’ve found your way here. Welcome, welcome to the Speak Healing Words community. This weeks word, drum roll please, is whole. W-H-O-L-E. In episodes four and five, we learned about the beautiful spiritual practice Lectio Divina. Divine Reading. This spiritual practice invites us to place ourselves in the midst of a biblical story and look at it from the many different viewpoints or perspectives that are offered within that story. And so we opened up John 5. The man who laid by the pool of Bethesda, the miraculous healing waters at Bethesda, for 38 years. And then one day, many would say a random day but oh no no no. A very strategically divine providential day, the man called Jesus walked up to this man who had been paralyzed for 38 years lying on a mat and he said, “Do you want to be whole?”
Janell Rardon: So I thought today what a perfect time to look at the words within the word whole. W-H-O-L-E. And many times on our journey of healing, emotional healing, often times finding our way towards wholeness actually comes through a very difficult passage, difficult circumstance, a difficult relationship, a hard time, a walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The old beautiful mystic St John of the Cross called it the dark night of the soul. Sometimes we don’t find our way through to the other side of emotional freedom and healing and spiritual authenticity unless we walk through a valley of the shadow of death.
Janell Rardon: And I share my own experience in Overcoming Hurtful Words: Rewrite Your Own Story. I share it candidly and honestly and with great vulnerability. And I bring out within this story the beautiful story of a woman named Hannah. I love story. Open the pages of any great novel and escape into a world filled with endless heartbreak. Whether you’re traveling up the Congo river with Charles Marlow and that beautiful book Heart of Darkness. Or you’re imprisoned in the Red Room with Jane Erie. Or you’re meeting Victor Frankenstein in the icy arctic. Or you’re fleeing from a royal ball before the clock strikes midnight. Novelists give words to our deepest fears, our deepest longings, and our deepest desires.
Janell Rardon: Somehow the power of story transcends time, culture, history, and it wields an immense uncanny power and ability unlike any other medium to grab our hearts. They help us give voice to the voiceless emotions within us. They help us give life to the lifeless emotions within us. And they give hope to our hopelessness. There’s nothing like the power of story and we’ve talked about that here. I can only hope that my story informs your story so that your story can inform someone else’s story, because we’re in this together. It’s not all about my story. It is about our story because me plus we equals we. But there is no greater story that offers entrance into the world of relationships.
Janell Rardon: That’s what we’re all about here at the Speak Healing Words community, aren’t we? We want to be our very best God breathed self. We want to embrace and be empowered by the three fold cord of emotional health and spiritual authenticity. A healthy sense of self. We know who’s we are so that we know who we are. We want to have healthy behavior patterns. And we want to have healthy communication skills so that we can be a heart lifter in the midst of our sphere of influence. And man, this is not easy work we’re doing here but I promise it’s empowering work. And it will make your life so rich, so meaningful, and so so enjoyable.
Janell Rardon: So no story, let me repeat myself, offers entrance into this world of complicated interpersonal relationship like the greatest story ever told, like the Bible, the ancient text that I follow as the guide for my life. It’s full of romance, it’s full of conflict, it’s full of betrayal. And the ultimate triumph of good over evil. In literary terms, it’s the hero’s journey, isn’t it? For centuries upon centuries, these true stories. Let me remind you that these are not … this is not historical fiction. This is historical non-fiction. These are true stories that reveal the power of real love working out in the lives of very real people. People just like you and me. Wow.
Janell Rardon: So somewhere in the midst of my own personal story of moving through the healing process of my own very crushed heart and spirit, which I write all about in Overcoming Hurtful Words, I found a story in the old testament that literally changed my life. I promise you I’m not being dramatic. I tend towards the drama but I’m being so profoundly honest. I hold my Bible real, real close. But during that period when I actually sincerely kind of thought I’m going to walk away from the church, the organized religion, because I was really wounded in that environment. But in the middle of that wounding, I found this true story. And it seemed to come alive for me in this very desperate time. And you know, desperate times call for desperate measures, don’t they? Charles Dickens told us that.
Janell Rardon: I needed this ancient text, this Bible that I followed so closely, I needed it to speak to me. I needed it to tell me how to navigate this wounded-ness from a person that I thought I could trust within the church atmosphere. So from a very quiet often overlooked chapter in my Bible, a voice of wisdom called out. First Samuel 1, which I call a tale of two hearts. Boy is this chapter filled to the brim with lessons on both healthy and unhealthy relationships. And if the cameras … I tell you, if the cameras of reality TV had been rolling in 1083 B.C. these two women would had been catapulted into internet social media stardom. Oh my goodness, they would have been overnight sensations. They would have stared in a show called The Real Housewives of Ephraim. Or perhaps guest stars on an episode of Sister Wives.
Janell Rardon: So there are two main characters. We have Peninnah, who I lovingly call Penny just because it’s hard to say her name. She would be the seeming antagonist in the story. And then we have Hannah, our protagonist. Our leading character, the good character. Imagine the frenzy that social media … it would have been a million Tweets within hours if CNN or someone had gotten hold of this juicy storyline. So we meet … perhaps we would meet with the cover of People Magazine that would say, “Oh poor Hannah, unable to give her husband his beloved firstborn son, Elkanah her husband ends up using a surrogate to give him children.” Tweets might have read, “Motherhood is hopeless for Hannah. Oh bring on the next woman.” And if the shame of infertility wasn’t enough in Hannah’s life, Elkanah’s second wife Penny was not only fertile, she was fertile beyond fertile. She relentlessly flaunted her fertility, success, everyday in front of Hannah.So I propose that a conversation like this might have taken place.
Janell Rardon: “Hey Hannah.” Shouted Penny, ready to go to church.
Janell Rardon: “Yes, just a second.” Hannah sighed. “Let me get my things.” Hannah would think another Sabbath. Another long walk to temple. Every pounding step I take matched with Penny’s relentless pounding commentary.
Janell Rardon: “Oh look at little Elkie!” Penny giggled. “Doesn’t he look just like his father? Oh that little dimple in his chin, just like him.” She’s snide. And little Josiah, that cowlick. “Oh my goodness, it’s the mirror image of Elkanah. Aren’t they adorable, Hannah?”
Janell Rardon: Once again, that verbal knife cut straight through Hannah’s heart and her barren womb. Years of infertility hanging over her head like a looming storm cloud. “Lord.” Hannah prayed under her breath. “Why does she have to be like that? She knows my pain. She knows it oh so well. We live very closely together. We serve side by side. What have I ever done to Penny to make her treat me with such disdain? She knows I can’t get pregnant and yet she flaunts her flock of children right in front of me every single Sunday. What I wouldn’t give for just one, just one, just one little boy or little girl to love?”
Janell Rardon: “Oh Hannah!” Penny smirked. “Can you please run and help me? Little Ezra, he’s just getting way ahead of us. I can’t keep up with all these children. They’re going to be the death of me yet.”
Janell Rardon: Taking a long, deep breath of silent pain, Hannah swooped Ezra, nestling his chubby little two year old frame into her arms as if he were her own. “One day, Lord, I know.” She prayed yet again, the quiver in her voice steadied by a deeper trust. “One day.”
Janell Rardon: For several years, I traced Hannah’s painful struggles with Penny. Hannah became someone so, so real to me. She wasn’t a Bible character on the page anymore in my ancient book. She and her story were so parallel to my story. Her story informed my story. Her ability, her enormous remarkable capacity to overcome the hurtful words and the relentless pounding of Penny’s hurtful words showed me how to overcome my own hurtful words. And now, oh my dear friend, I hope it helps you do the same. Even though this story took place centuries upon centuries ago, it’s so relevant to you and to me today. Hannah was required by God to overcome hurtful words. She was required by God to rewrite her story in the midst of tremendous agony and angst. God asked her to write a new narrative in the midst of a very painful narrative.
Janell Rardon: And she had to do it without the tools and resources we have available to us. There was no Google. No internet. No Bible study groups. We read of nowhere in these passages of scripture that she was meeting with a prayer group or that she had any kind of emotional support whatsoever. Her one and only support was in God and God alone. We’re not given much to work with in these 28 verses so in my efforts to understand Hannah’s journey more, I turned to theologians, to Bible commentators, to a handful of authors who had also tried to figure out this complicated interpersonal relationship that was filled with pain, with intensity and a very strong desire to see every angle. I looked at it from absolutely every angle I could. I looked at Penny’s side. I wanted to give Penny the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to be open minded, to gain insights from another persons perspective.
Janell Rardon: Because as we spoke about last week, perspective is everything. We all have our own perceptions and our perceptions are our truth. And we bring our truth, our perception, into our relationships. And until we grow and become mature, we really cannot enter into any interpersonal relationships with any health if we’re not willing to open ourselves up to even trying to hear the other persons perspective or perception. We have to at least agree to disagree or agree to hear it, to listen between the lines. And if we disagree, we agree to disagree.
Janell Rardon: So hang in here with me. This is so helpful. This contentious relationship between Penny, the antagonist and Hannah begged the hard question is this woman Penny, is she just well meaning or is she just mean? I think this was the hardest part of my journey with writing Overcoming Hopeful Words: Rewrite Your Own Story. Because it really started the pilgrimage of this story, which I’m going to be sharing over the next few weeks on Instagram and Facebook Live. I want to let you see behind the scenes of what led me to write this story, not just my own wounding but my passion to see women really excel in interpersonal relationships with one another so that we absolutely demolish the Penny nature of envy and jealousy and strife and contention. And we stand with one another side by side, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, and we learn how to have honest, vulnerable, authentic conversations so that we can challenge one another in Christ and most forward in Christ and we can advance the kingdom of God through healthy interpersonal relationships.
Janell Rardon: You can see I’m getting passionate because my voice is getting louder. So turn down your volume, I’m sorry. So we can only discern in this situation the mystery of these two thoughts. Mean or well meaning? So we have to look at the words inside the words. And I promise we’re getting to our word of the day whole. So we’re going to place mean and well meaning. And it is Overcoming Hurtful Words if you want to look at it in your book and it is in the chapter Stay With or Pray Through and it’s all about Hannah. So we’re going to place them side by side, and I do that in the book, and we’re going to see how different these two mean, an adjective, and well meaning, an adjective, are.
Janell Rardon: Mean means offensive, selfish, or unaccommodating. So hear that. Small minded. So a mean woman is offensive, selfish, unaccommodating and as the core is small minded, which means having narrow interest, sympathies or outlook and it’s marked by, you must hear this, pettiness, narrowness, or meanness. So Penny, was she mean or was she well meaning? I’m going to let you make that decision. I’ve made my conclusion and it’s in Overcoming Hurtful Words.
Janell Rardon: Well meaning, on the other hand, means having good intentions. What is an intention? An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result. So there’s a marked difference between someone’s intentions being mean. It means they’re petty, they’re small minded, they’re selfish. Okay, so I’m just going to give you … from my study, from my perspective, Penny was just being mean. And the word of God in First Samuel says that she was a rival. She was intent upon oppressing and depressing and keeping Hannah down. She was not well intentioned. She flouted, flaunted, shouted her fertility and her success. Why would she do that? Was it because she was second choice? Because as we read in First Samuel, we see very clearly that Elkanah, the husband of Penny and Hannah, preferred Hannah. He gave her the best choice meal. He outwardly preferred her, so hello. Any of us, any good woman in that situation … that God we don’t have this kind of double … we don’t have … on my goodness … polygamy in our relationships, in our world, thank God because I wouldn’t be able to handle it.
Janell Rardon: But imagine Penny, right? Imagine her having to play second fiddle and know she’s second fiddle. So that would be hard for any good woman, so I’m giving her a lot of grace because, you know, I wouldn’t be able to do it. So I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt but she didn’t have it easy, as I just said. She lived in the backdrop of Elkanah’s deep open favor towards Hannah. That had to hurt. She bore the responsibility of taking care of all those children while Hannah enjoyed less responsibility and a more pleasurable life. That must have been frustrating. She lived in the role of runner up. That’s my favorite thing about it. She was runner up.
Janell Rardon: Okay, I hated being runner up in pageants. I hated being runner up in dancing competitions. And when it comes to ministry and the spirit and being in church, you know how I write in Overcoming. Honestly, we bring our baggage into the church and I didn’t like to be second or runner up there either. Second place, as Dale Earnhardt says, it’s first looser. Ouch.
Janell Rardon: So when it’s all said and done, though, we cannot sugar coat Penny’s unhealthy hurtful presence in Hannah’s life. The evidence is clear. First Samuel 1:6 says, “Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.” It was a cognitive … she was bent on making Hannah miserable. None of us, none of us, want to ever believe that someone is mean spirited. We will offer … I did it for years, offered excuses for the mean behavior of other women in my life, other people. I didn’t want to believe it to be true but sometimes at grave expense it is true. And we need to believe. And we need to deal with it and we need to realize that this is not healthy, this is not good, this is a relationship I either need to speak up and use my voice and be wise and discerning and say, “Oh no. This behavior towards me is not okay.” Or I need to understand that I need to move on. Maybe I need to end the relationship.
Janell Rardon: A really great book if you are looking or feeling or not understanding how long to stay in some unhealthy relationship is called Necessary Endings. It’s fabulous. It’s a fabulous, fabulous book. Time after time, I listen to stories from my clients and friends and ministers and people waiting in line at book signings. And they’re weary and they’re worn down and they’re whispering, “I’ve been so hurt. Why has this been done to me? I can’t forgive what they did. Why me? How can she act that way and call herself a Christian?” I sit in disbelief, I really do.
Janell Rardon: So what do we do? What do we do then, as we close, when we can’t escape or hide or get away? Sometimes … remember how we started our time and our conversation today was that sometimes in our healing journey the only way we can be made whole and come to emotional freedom is to be faced with an antagonist like Penny. Now that might not make any sense to you but sometimes the only way we can face our demons or face our own dysfunctions or unhealthy traits like my own, which I share so candidly with you. My need for applause, my need for approval, my need for affirmation, my need to have other people constantly … oh, I’m so sorry … tell me, “Oh Janell, you’re good. You’re good.” I had to be broken of those awful A’s, I call them. And it took a Penny in my own life who I prefer to call Angelia in the book.
Janell Rardon: So what do we do then? I believe Hannah’s response to Penny’s relentless pounding shows us the how’s, why’s, and what’s of praying through and staying with all the perplexing pain of hurtful words. In the midst of her very broken, very bruised heart, Hannah had an important decision to make. She could have done these things. She could have fought Penny. She could have hit her. She could have yelled at her. She could have been catty. She could have been deliberately been hurtful back in her words. She could have been spiteful. She could have retaliated and verbally attacked Penny like Penny verbally attacked her. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, right? She could play the blame game and blame Penny for absolutely everything that was going wrong in her life. She could have gossiped about Penny within the community. She could have marred her character and created a dark shadow around her. Oh, that is so hard not to do. She could have wailed and screamed and pleaded that Elkanah punish Penny for her mean words and actions. She could have isolated and sunk into a deep dark hole of despair and possibly end it all.
Janell Rardon: I write candidly about my own coming to the end of myself. When I screamed and yelled in a vacant field for three and a half, four hours. I was so at the end of my rope. But God and his mercy intervened. I don’t know where he might be right now. My words might be right there. You’re at the end and you’re going, “I cannot take this anymore. I’m so done. Enough is enough. How did Hannah keep going?” Hannah could have allowed that serious heart rift to hamper her life and future. She could have said to hell with it all, excuse my language. And she could have run away from her family, her children, and her community. She could have just said, “Forget it. I’m going to do things my way.”
Janell Rardon: Thankfully Hannah didn’t do that. How then did Hannah navigate … how then did she navigate staying with and praying through this process? How did she keep going in the face of this harsh treatment? How and why did she stay? How did she refrain from retaliation? What did she know about loving others that we don’t know? And what kept her from going absolutely crazy and insane? And the answer to that, my dear friends, is in First Samuel [1:10]. This one declarative true sentence changed my whole life, the trajectory of my healing journey. And boy do I hope that today it changes yours. It reads, “She was deeply distressed. Hannah was at the end of her rope and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.” Some different versions of the Bible say Hannah wept and prayed much.
Janell Rardon: That little conjunction ‘and’ is the whole trajectory of Hannah’s life. Rest in that conjunction ‘and’ and it rest in our lives. If we only weep bitterly, I hate to this with honest truth, we will end sometimes end our own life. Suicide is at an all time high unfortunately. But on my goodness, because of the ‘and’ … she wept bitterly and prayed much. Prayed much. Whoa. Never before has this little conjunction, this three letter word and, meant so much to me. If we laeve it out, all we have is Hannah wept. Add it back and we have our answer. She prayed much. Her secret to us is that she stayed with and prayed through.
Janell Rardon: She had two choices. One choice to leave her depressed and distressed and at the end. Or the other choice leading her to overcome Penny’s hurtful words. Oh excuse me, I forgot to turn that off. But she didn’t. She didn’t stay in her weeping state. She didn’t stay stuck in her heart rift. She found her way to the praying and staying state. She rose above the pain of her antagonist and she eventually experienced the exhilarating, lasting freedom of a heart lift. And I’d like to say that Hannah did it through something we call whole. Five stages of the process … let me get back to it in my notes here. Let’s see … don’t know where I put it … oh I’m so sorry.
Janell Rardon: Hannah prayed with and stayed through. So whole. I developed this acronym whole W-H-O-L-E as like an emergency response plan that when we practice and practice and practice this five step process, we tuck it in our process so when an antagonist like Penny attacks us, a rival comes against us, someone says a harsh, hurtful word in an intention to really hurt us, not a well meaning word. That we can look at and go, “Okay, I’m just going to overlook that offense. That person didn’t really know what they were saying.” And you will learn to know the difference as you grow and mature. But when someone is intentionally mean, intentionally trying to oppress you, intentionally try to make you feel inferior, implement this five step plan whole. I go into in depth in my website as well so please go to JanellRardon.com/resources and go into the heart lift method and find whole and study whole. It’s awesome.
Janell Rardon: First step, we’re going to welcome God into our wise. Hannah emulates this for us. Immediately when this antagonist Penny is coming after her and oppressing her … and it says year after year after year. This lasted for a long time. Hannah welcomed God into it immediately. Now once we practice this when we’re attacked and taken off guard, this will be an immediately cognitive response and our brain will go, “Okay, God, I welcome you into this. Please come help me understand right now, right now, right now.”
Janell Rardon: H is we will choose immediately to halt the negative. To halt the unhealthy. And we will come to a place where we can harness our energy and remember that we are God’s child and that no one is allowed to talk to us in that way, talk to us in that tone, which we talked about in episode 5 with prosody. So we welcome God in, we hardness this energy to remember who we are, to remember our identity, to remember that we have value, worth, and dignity. We harness that, we lasso it. We go, “I have value, worth, and dignity. You’re not allowed to speak to me this way. So you need to stop talking to me in that tone or with those hurtful words and take a break until you can come to me as a mature person and we can have a mature conversation. And I will be able to hear you then, because right now I can’t hear you because you’re talking to me in such a hurtful way.”
Janell Rardon: So W. Welcome God into the whys. We harness that energy, we halt the unhealthy, we remember who we are. O is we overcome unhealthy with healthy. The entire heart lift method, the entire work we do here in Speak Healing Words is based on that. Healthy verus unhealthy. When someone comes to me and they’re pummeling me or coming at me with hurtful words, that’s unhealthy. And I need them to stop and I need them to take a deep breath. And if they don’t, then I need to just walk away and I need to let them know when you’re healthy and you can have a mature conversation because we’re grown adults, I’ll hear you.
Janell Rardon: L. Listen. W-H-O-L. We lean in and we listen between the lines. This is the discerning part where we go, “Okay, is this person mean or well meaning?” And you will practice and you will train yourself to be able to go, “Oh that’s just a stupid comment that I’m going to let roll off my back like water off a duck’s back.” And if it’s hurtful and mean intentioned, you will know to apply W-H-O and you’ll go, “We’ll have a conversation later when we are both level headed.”
Janell Rardon: And then E is you will elevate the atmosphere of the conversation. Or of the room. I know I’m asking you to come up way high, to be really mature, but that’s what we’re all about in the Speak Healing Words community. To have a healthy sense of self, healthy behavior patterns, healthy communication skills. And that will make us mature. Mature women who are heart lifters in the center of our sphere of influence. And boy oh boy. That, my friends, is infectious and everyone wants to be around that kind of human being.
Janell Rardon: So I went over time again. I tend to always do that but I’m going to cut it short now and I’m going to say God bless you. Thank you for being here today. If you want more, you know where to go. It’s right on my website on JanellRardon.com/resources. The heart lift method. Buy the book Overcoming Hurtful Words wherever books are sold. And until next time, please, please remember you have value, worth, and dignity. So be whole. See you next time.
Speaker 1: Thanks for listening today. It was great having you here. For even more great content and conversation, please join the Speak Healing Words community at JanellRardon.com.