When I was in fifth grade I got head lice. Oh, it was terrible! Not only was it humiliating but the thought that I had this nest of bugs taking up residence in my hair was disturbing. Oh and the treatment, my poor parents spent hours picking each nit out of my hair, and steam cleaning the carpets, and cleaning every nook and cranny of our home to rid it of any bugs. My mom faithfully cleaned our house each week, so you can imagine the headache of adding another deep cleaning in the midst of her work schedule.
I vividly recall sitting on a stool on my grandmas front porch with my hair sectioned off into quarters as my dad examined every single strand of hair on my head removing any nit found. My neck was sore for days afterwards from keeping my head tilted down for so long. We were both sunburned and I am pretty sure my dad’s hand was contorted for a few days after from the hours of holding that little pick.
So you might be wondering, “Why am I sharing my head lice saga with you?” Because of Proverbs 14:1.
A wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one picks it to splinters with her own hands. Proverbs 14:1 (The Voice). The Passion translation put’s it this way, “Every wise woman encourages and builds up her family, but a foolish woman over time will tear it down by her own actions.”
By the way, I don’t think this verse is just for women…
Have you ever heard of the term Nit-Picking or for us Southerners Nit-Pickin’? It originates from the procedure used to clear up my head lice, but it was later transitioned to describe someone who picks apart others or situations to there destruction with no intention of helping improve the situation.
When I read Proverbs 14:1 the term Nit-Picking came to mind. How many times do I look at my home and pick it apart thinking thoughts like, “Who thought putting a window there, would be a great idea?” Or I look at my kids and think, “Thank you for getting dressed all by yourself, but do you really think that shirt looks good with those shorts!” Or I look at my husband and think, “Thank you for making up the bed, but you didn’t get that pillow just how I like it.” Or going a little farther, I look at my church family and think, “They are serving but…” or I look at my fiends and think, “She’s great but…” Now going just one step further, what about when I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, “If you could just get rid of the fat on this part…” Do you see the problem?
From my physical house all the way to my body (a temple of God), I pick. Picking tears down. Just imagine with me, picking apart the loved ones in your life, like you would a house – splinter by splinter. Sure you might not see the repercussions immediately, but over time – destruction. Destruction to the things that God has given you to actually be a gift and a blessing. Is that really what we want?
I find that at times I buy into the lie that my nit-picking is just intended to improve the person or the situation. Really? Improving would actually be not focusing on the imperfections but focusing on the strengths and then building on those strengths.
What would it look like if you and I chose to be wise and build up our spouses, our kids, our church family, our friends and even ourselves? What would happen if instead of picking and saying, “You could do this better” we said, “You did a great job! You have been working hard, keep at it!” while focusing on the accomplishment of what they did do rather than looking at what they didn’t do!
May we let God adjust our eyes to see people and ourselves like He see’s. May you and I see clearly the gifts and blessings in our lives and choose to build up, because through our building up we are giving grace to those who hear, as Phillip Yancy says, “Grace on tap.” Isn’t grace the thing we are all in need of? May you and I become a quick access to grace rather than nit-pickin’ destruction.