Cancer has opened my eyes to Racism

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How God has used my cancer journey to see racism with new eyes:

It amazes me what slowly becomes normal even when it is an offense.
For years now, my body was making adjustments due to the tumor in my bladder. It happened slowly and until my diagnosis, I did not have an AHA moment.
I was bending over less. I was lifting less. I would try to work out and have incredible pain and link it to being out of shape or other medical conditions. I was growing more and more tired to the point that even the idea of getting dressed after a shower was too much. This went on for years and I just felt it was ‘normal’ as it built up so slowly I didn’t stop and think how much I had declined.
I had this offense in my body and I kept belittling the importance. Everything around me was taking precedence over cancer within me and it was unnoticed. Family, activities, other health issues. It went on to the point that God had to bring a miracle into my life to bring it to light.

Now I know the cancer is there and I will fight. Now I will not sit back and let it be my normal.

This is our responsibility today concerning the racism that has taken root in our country from the beginning.
Some things improve and so we say it is no longer an issue,
or we see them as little issues (there is no ‘little’ concerning racism but some view it that way).
We don’t realize in our limited world experience that the cancer is still there under the surface growing bigger than our eyes can see.

Just because some of our issues regarding racism has improved, does not mean the evil behind it is not still very relevant and growing. It is a spirit that spreads from one heart to another, starting with what one would consider no big deal, taking root and becoming an even bigger disease.

The truth is, we can take care of this, one offense at a time, now that it is being identified fresh, and in the light in a new way (Black people have been screaming for revelation all along) but our eyes were hidden to the great attention this cancer needed. We were too busy with our own selves, our own goals, our own agendas to really see what was hidden. Especially when living in a predominantly white community I had no idea how my friends have been treated.

We were conditioned by other generations that there was no longer an issue. Some believe a word or stereotype is no big deal. But it is a very big deal. It is the beginning seed that grows into a ravishing disease.

Let us start by addressing the real enemy and not ignoring the things that we have adapted to be normal. It is not normal that ANY human being to be treated as or to feel less than or to fear for their safety due to any differences.
It is NOT normal or acceptable to be a part of that pain that is inflicted.

You may not be cancer, but you may be one of the symptoms that you have easily brushed away. Evaluate how you are going to attack this thing that has become our normal.

Will you slap a bandaid over it? Or will you stand up and be a part of the cure?

She is clothed in Strength and Dignity

Writing4Joy
“Strength and Dignity”

Proverbs 31:25
She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.
She makes me laugh. She gives hope when I feel discouraged. She reminds me that my mind needs to have redirection when I am thinking of the things that are not life-giving. She is a woman of Grace.  She understands my struggles, either because she has lived them or because she is walking close to the one that knows my every moment and breath.
She is my friend. She is my warrior in battle. She is a Proverbs 31 woman. A woman fully clothed in strength and dignity.

Who is she? She is many. She is the many women that the Lord has put in my life to edify, encourage, build up, and strengthen me in this thing we call life.
In the presence of these mighty women, I can’t help be changed and transformed to be the woman that God had created me to be.

Just as the scripture says bad company corrupts good character (I Cor. 15:33), so can a strong woman influence the ladies within her circle.

Because she spent the time to cultivate my walk, I am able to say that I too am a woman of strength and dignity. I too can laugh at my future without fear.

I have been blessed to have women in my life give of themselves and take the time to instruct and teach the truth. They have spoken into my nows, for the development of my next.

Who the Lord chooses to place in my life has taken turns over the years. But each one that has imparted has made a lasting impact. I remember the women, that taught a young girl, how to raise my hands in worship. I remember the women that taught me how to go to the scriptures in all of my trials, longing, and joys. I remember the women that taught me how to be a wife that saught God’s plans for my family. I remember the woman that spoke to me as a young mother and reminded me that the seasons would go fast and to enjoy each moment. I remember the woman that taught me how to retrain my thoughts. I remember the woman that told me I was assuming another’s heart was ill-intentioned and that I  needed to trust in God for other’s motives and love without restriction. I remember the woman that spoke into my life, teaching me about my identity in Christ.

These many women changed my life from the victim to the victorious. From the mundane to the extraordinary. To a life full of expectation rather than a focus on what was lost or left behind.

Because she was willing to invest, I too can boldly say that I  am a woman clothed in strength and dignity and I can laugh without fear of the future. Because of the Holy Spirit within her pouring out, I was changed.

She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.
She can walk in this truth as she listens to the instruction of the Lord. She dwells with the Holy Spirit. Letting His power be at work within.

She may not even know the impact she has made. For her efforts may have seemed so small in the grand scheme of things. But to the one that had her life changed, it meant everything.

She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, but until then: Seven steps to peace.

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We are getting into our sunny season around here and I couldn’t be any more thrilled. But, I have to admit with COVID-19 orders to stay in, I could get a little discouraged that the sun is finally here again, and I have to wait for the trips to the zoo, parks, waterfalls, mountains and ocean.

When I was little, my aunt would sing to me the lyrics of Annie’s famous song,
The Sun will come out tomorrow. 
Living in months of rainy Oregon weather every year, I have to admit I still absolutely love that song! I will sing it often to cheer myself on a cloudy day. Especially when despite the situations outside, my heart may be feeling a little damp and not so sunny.

Sometimes I have to just shrug off the situations in my life and say, oh well, the sun will come out tomorrow. Otherwise, things can go from gloomy to worse, quickly. And most assuredly the situation always changes, and often looking back I can be thankful how I have grown and that this too was survived. Life is ever-changing and the sun truly does come out tomorrow. Oh maybe not today’s tomorrow, but some days tomorrow.
Until we see the sun come out in our lives, both figuratively and literally, there are seven steps to peace that I try to follow these days. I find even in the darkest gloomiest seasons, I can often find a bit of sun after all.

Seven Steps to Peace

1. Ask yourself if the situation is truly dark as it seems. Is there any opportunity for the good within the circumstances to be seen? Look for even a glimmer of hope in the most hopeless of days. When you find it, hold on tight.

2. There is true wisdom in the words, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Evaluate what is worth the energy to keep you from peace. If it truly is not worth it, don’t give in to it. It is okay to let the small things go.

3. Sing Baby Sing! Music truly is an opportunity to bring about peace. Find some music that stirs up your peace, or joy, or a little sunshine on a cloudy day and sing along.
Or if you are more into grooving, dance along to that favorite tune. My favorite worship leader would always remind me, with praise and thanksgiving, give a shout of triumph unto the Lord. Oh, how it is hard to stay in turmoil with praise on your lips!

4. Meditate. The scriptures tell us to meditate on the word of God. Meditate (think upon) His word and promises. Think upon whatever is good, right and brings honor to His name.

5. Walk away. If you are dealing with toxic people that are robbing you of peace, and you are able to, walk away. Nothing is worth the damage that constant turmoil brings your life from a situation that is unhealthy. If it is a situation that you just can not walk away from, seek some wise counsel on how to best maintain your peace and handle a toxic situation/relationship.

6.  Be mindful to not pick up someone else’s anger, frustration, anxiety or self-righteousness over a situation. I have been peaceful and joyful and walked into a room of grumbling and complaining and picked up the very same attitude. Likewise I am positive that I have changed atmospheres with my own negative mindsets. Now I am learning to take the time to breathe, slow down and think of a way to encourage in a frustrating situation, rather than becoming a part of the problem.

7. Write it down. We are human and we are going to go through battles that sometimes are too big to think away, sing away or hope away. But I have found writing all the good, the bad and the ugly down in my situation, often turns into my prayer, and not only helps me put things in perspective but releases the pressures building up in me when it is all just too much. Often when I get to the end of my writing, I will begin to see the situation with a new lens and gain ideas to best equip me in the battle ahead. I also have found that keeping it all down, leads to testimonies when the sun shines and it has all worked itself out in the end.

You see, the rains come. The storms of life hit hard. But eventually, the darkness rolls away and hope shines again. The sun will come out. My hope is we can avoid being a soggy mess when it arrives. But instead being the strong tree, with the roots that run deep. Still standing tall at the end of it all. Ready to glisten in the shimmer of goodness as the light once again shines.

Loneliness: Call Me

 

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Awakened Arts: Call Me Anytime

 

Sometimes the damage of rejection can have roots that run deep. I have had seasons of extreme loneliness. Many times, it had been a lingering feeling of not having a place in the world. The mind can play games when you have a lot of time on your hands. The silence can be your biggest enemy.

Often my loneliness had been my own making. I have hurt others by canceling plans due to my illness. I understand their frustration, it would break my heart to cancel and the lies start wreaking havoc about my worth. So then I would not make plans, and the invites never came.
Also,  I am not one to love talking on the phone, in fact I cringe at the thought. I get anxious about the onslaught of sensory overload that inevitably follows phone conversations. My form of communication is writing, or time together, but not everyone works the same way.

Society teaches us to not invite ourselves. And I have done the inviting more times than I can count, only to sit back and watch everyone else gather time and again without an invite. I have traveled 8 hours twice to go spend time with a friend, only to have them unable to go 10 min out of their way to come see me when we were in the same town, they rather take a picture of a building (their bucket list item), than allowing a few minutes for a quick hello and hug as they passed through. It has hurt extremely deeply. And the enemy would use these moments to attack, the remembrance that others didn’t want me, and actually preferred I didn’t exist at all, would ring loud in my head after every new rejection.

There have been times I even voiced my loneliness to others, to only receive empty stares back at me or a nod of understanding but then weeks of silence followed. Even if I was unable to do, the invite would have been a treasure.

I have beaten myself up with lies that I am unlovely and unwanted.  I surely must be annoying or boring or any other ‘thing’ that would keep others uninterested in spending time with me by their own choice, would fill my head.

I even ordered a book titled: Uninvited- Lysa Terkeurst which I have yet to read as I lost it in some transitions.

Imagine my surprise, when a friend heard my words, “I am lonely”, and acted on them. She heard my cry and invited me to coffee.
She shared her own seasons of loneliness. And admitted that the Lord told her if you are lonely do something about it. This truth touched my very core.
I had been letting the enemy lie to me so much I stopped reaching out. I was waiting for everyone else to notice me, in a world where sometimes, this just does not happen.
To see someone so charismatic, beautiful, fun, well-loved, talented, gifted and all other things lovely, to deal with being lonely was a shock to me.

It was a few days later the Lord had revealed a life-giving truth to me.  When loneliness rises up, it is often a tugging and call from the Lord.
He wants to spend time with us. Loving and healing us through our inner hurts. He wants the opportunity to sit in His presence. It is in those moments with Him that I have been given hope, peace, joy, healing, and revelations. It is in those moments that I discovered my identity. I discovered that I am wanted. My pain has melted away and new life rises up.
When I get so wrapped up in the fact that I am sitting in silence and the invites are not coming, I miss the most important invite of all. He tells me I can call anytime. He is there and faithful to seek us out. To draw us near. And meet us right where we are at.

One of my favorite scriptures ‘rings’ so true at this moment.
Jeremiah 33:3-  Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things that you do not know.  

We are now in a season where loneliness is knocking on our doors. We can not reach out and gather the way many of us value. We can’t busy our thoughts of isolation away. It is the forefront in our mind.

I want to encourage you this day my friend. Call to the Lord, ask Him what new treasure He may have for you. What hidden truths does He want to bring to light? How can only He fill the innermost needs in your life that are missing?

The time will come, we can be busy, social and all the good things fellowship brings. This is a time to call on Him, like never before. There are so many great things to discover.

I am spending time today…. just calling…listening and enjoying.
Here is a song to enjoy in the journey. Call Me 

 

When the World Went Silent

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When the world went silent we truly began to see.
We learned to enjoy what we have and how to just be.

When the world went silent we began to care.
We work together and some of us learned how to share.

When the world went silent our hearts began to cry.
Together we were moved to mourn the loss of many lives.

When the world went silent we fell to our knees.
We cried out for freedom and hearts to be filled with peace.

When the world went silent we saw what held our hearts captive.
We learned how to look to others with renewed compassion.

When the world went silent we began to live anew.
We began to long for our community and love grew.

When the world went silent it was then that our ears were able to hear.
We began to open our souls and walk in a knowing greater than fear.

When the world went silent we saw how strong we could really be.
We opened our hearts and with God, who goes before us, we were set free.

 

Shaey Anthony (Writing4Joy) March 2020

A matter of perspective?

Image  Photo by: Awakened Arts

 

This is an old post from years ago that I had found living in my draft folder.
I am reflecting with fresh eyes, as the winter season that is about to pass in just a few short days. I know even in the spring many rainy days will come.

There were difficult days of course over the years, in fact, I just had a bout of nasty emotions again. but as time has gone on, the Lord has returned me to His truths much quicker than in the past. I am listening to His voice closer now. I am looking now.
As I get ready for spring with excitement, I know that each day will be a joy or a curse, depending on my perspective and where my thoughts and eyes are resting.

Even though this was written long ago, I am finding it still relevant. Be blessed in the sharing.

A matter of Perspective:

I live in a very damp region, often we can have 30 (+) days of constant rain and often the gray dreary weather leaves many people despondent.
One year when I was driving home from work and we had our first rain of the season. I noticed the coolness on my windshield as the tiny droplets began to form into full-grown raindrops. There was a moment of pause and then my tears fell. I knew it had begun. This rain meant a shift in the season that I was enjoying so much.  Gone were the outdoorsy, summery warm evenings and the abundant vitamin D, hello cold and flu season and hidden away like a bear hibernating for winter. My eyes were focused on loss rather than a possibility that comes with change.

The funny thing is, at that moment, I was focusing on what I was dreading and all that was unpleasant. Yet, each and every season for me has greatness as well. It is all a matter of perspective.

I find that those rains bring about the most gorgeous green foliage! Rich soils produce mushrooms, thirsty ferns, and moss! I had only the year before gone on a glorious photo walk and captured so many textures and colors. The colors for a photographer in autumn with the fall leaves are amazing. I had forgotten it in the moment of tears. But now I realize it is just a matter of perspective.

The colder wet season also brings about more movie nights, family game nights and hot cocoa! The evenings seem to spread forever as it gets darker earlier and earlier. I often hear the words, ” It is only six o clock?! We have the whole night ahead of us!”

Each season in our life can bring about life and death, dread and joy, peace and strife. We can look at our season from many perspectives but I want to encourage you this day to look at your season with a new vision.

You can have a purpose in every single life situation. This is a vision of hope and life. Don’t focus on all the dreariness in your season, but the life that the season will produce. What could this season bring to you that will strengthen you and equip you for the next? How can you switch your perspective to one of hope, or at the very least one that sees an end ahead at the end of the tunnel where a new day will awaken.

Even during the tiring, physical struggle of work that may bring your energy down, you can look and see what is being done. When you feel tired and distressed, remember that every season of good cultivating comes to fruition. Each season serves its purpose and as we serve a mighty God with great plans for our life we can rest assured that the outcome will be LIFE producing 🙂

I am not naturally the cup is a half-full type of gal, or at least I don’t see myself as one. I truly have to take pause and work to see all the good that can arise in a situation.
To look at the full picture and pull out the good takes practice and an effort. It is not always easy to see what is lovely at times. But in my pursuit of joy, I realized how very important it is, to see the whole picture and set my eyes ahead to what I know HE has done!

It truly can be a matter of perspective!

Psalm 121:1 – 2

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

Blessings this day~

Help

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Help. Why has this word been so tainted? Why does the word “help” represent weakness to many instead of strength?

When you have exhausted all your own efforts and still banging your head against the wall, asking for help can move you into the greater faster. With help, there comes the opportunity for support and can often bring better results.

I have a vision of a giant city bridge. It is beautiful in structure. But without the support underneath that bridge, it will not stand and extend to fill the gap and do all that it was created for.

There are times I have been frustrated that help has not come. I have been the hamster on the wheel getting nowhere with all my efforts. I wonder, “why am I in this alone?” The answer is simple. I was in it all alone, because I didn’t bother to ask for help. I kept plugging along trying to figure it all out when some of the answers were not attainable to me.

It is wise to reach out for strong counsel when you need help. It is comforting and encouraging to reach out the God that created you to rest in the Lord’s promise that He comes to help in your time of need.
You can rise with confidence that you are not in this process alone. Help has arrived. Asking for help allows a deeper connection. It reveals our humanness. It leaves you with room to focus on the solution rather than the struggle.

I encourage you my friend, don’t walk in your struggles alone. When you have done all that you can do, ask for help to see you onto your best self. Ask the Lord to comfort you, encourage you, give you wisdom and open the doors to propel you on.

Think of the bridge again. This time we are thinking of a draw bridge that is open. You can make it part of the way, but you can not cross to the other side until the bridge is lowered and connected. You are on one side, standing it alone. Your hopes, dreams, and goals are waiting on the other side. Ask for help to connect your bridge.  Use the effort you have put in, and the effort, wisdom or support of another to fully arrive.

Along with resting in the Lord and His promise of help, sometimes He will use others.
Ask those around you for help. Look to a professional for help. But please stop trying to do it all on your own. Depression, isolation, and defeat is not a sign of strength, rather, it will take you longer to arrive (if you even do). And you may just have been striving for so long and hard that you show up too exhausted to enjoy the fruit of arrival.

Asking for help is not a weakness, in fact, it just may be the strongest thing you ever did in your life. I will start my mornings asking God to help me when morning dawns and I will not be moved in my strength!

A Time to Bloom

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Luke 12:27 
“Consider how the wildflowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all of his splendor was dressed like one of these.” 
 

As spring is approaching, I can not get the word “bloom” out of my mind.
I feel a tugging in my spirit that the long-awaited time will one day be over and the beauty of what God has planted within me will come into fruition.
I do not know what that will look like. But I am reminded that it will be in HIS season. Just as each flower has the perfect time to display her glory, so will I have a perfect time to share what is unique only to me. It will be my time to bloom as assuredly as the sun will rise.

Bloom: 1. a flower, especially one cultivated for its beauty.

A flower can be wild and free. But still needs to be planted on the right soil to flourish. She will still need to take root. She will need to be nourished. She will be cultivated (refined) in her process.

I find that I have had many seasons in my life, where my blooming process has seemed to be delayed. Sometimes this is the hand of the Lord, refining me, cultivating me and preparing me. Sometimes it has been a harder year and I am reminded of a late frost delaying spring, as life circumstances swirl around me.
Lastly, there is also the factor of the soil I have been planted on. In order to bloom, we need proper nourishment. If I am not growing in the areas the Lord needs for me to grow in, I will not find my time to bloom.

I am one that will need a bit of coaxing to step into the unknown and unfamiliar. I do not like change, or trying things that I feel less than qualified for, and honestly, I feel less than qualified in every area.
I have dealt with the lies of the enemy that nobody wants what I have to offer. I have viewed myself as the weed instead of the bloom to be.
I have sulked and hidden away when I am called to weather the nitty-gritty and to grow a nice strong stem. For without that strong stem, it is impossible to hold the bloom up high.

There have been times I am called to step out and ‘transplant’ to the proper ground for the cultivation needed to bloom at the ideal moment.
I am so thankful for the seasons, for the gardener that knows what I need, even before I do.
The Lord is the master gardener. In His care, I do not have to toil and spin.  He cultivates and uses the tools to give me the strength to become what He is calling me to.
He brings those beside me, that helps nourish the soil that builds strong roots.
It is true that in the process of growing there were times I wasn’t sure what I needed.
But the gardener was.  He will bring along all the right influences, encouragements and opportunity to bloom when it is my time.

The very meaning of bloom is to peak at an ideal moment.

I won’t rush. I will wait for the gardener. I will not labor and spin. I will rest in the knowledge that He already sees the day of fruition.
Just as it is supposed to, a time to bloom will arrive.

Dear Daughter-in-law

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Dear Daughter-in-law,

My sons are one of my deepest loves. I will fight for and support them until the day I die.  There is a lie out there that mother-in-law has to be the enemy. I am so thankful that this is not the case but there is more on my heart for you to know.
One of the best ways that I can love my adult son is to be your champion.

Champion: To fight for, defend, or support.

Daughter-in-law, you are a fellow woman but more than that you are now my family. I will shout for joy with your accomplishments, I will walk with you through the trials and be a source of hope when you are feeling less than.

Daughter-in-law, your concerns are my concerns. I will not side with my son just because he is my son when you come to me for counsel. I am your champion as well as his. You can confidently know that I will not run to him every time you may come to me with something on your heart. You can know I don’t ever expect you to come but I am always here when you need to.

I champion your success. I champion for you to be joyful, confident and fulfilled not only in your marriage but in your place of this family.
You are to always come first in his life. You are to be his focus and your happiness is his greatest concern.

Daughter-in-law, you are a treasure to never be overlooked as life gets crazy or the comfortable sets in, I will remind him to date you and pursue you forever. To listen to your heart. To be your helper and leader. To put your needs above his own and to love you first.
His greatest duty is to you, his wife and partner. I will forever be your champion because not only are you his, you are now mine.

 

Sorry… Not Sorry

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An open letter of apology, for those who were before and those yet to come.

Authentic: not false or copied; genuine; real: representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified: reliable; trustworthy:

I am sorry I had spoken too quickly, I will now be more aware. I am sorry that I thought our relationship was at a level that we could speak openly into each other’s lives, the good the bad and the real. I am sorry that you were hurt. I am sorry that you feel that I was not the kind of person you wanted to be around because in your words; “we are too different”. I am sorry you didn’t feel bold enough to tell me I crossed the line or anything was wrong. I am sorry that I thought you understood my physical limits, sometimes my smile hides the reality.

I am not sorry that I am authentic, it is who I am. I am not sorry that I seek a community that is bold and truthful with one another, I am not one for a smile and the fake.
I am not sorry that I can’t measure up to your expectations, especially if I don’t know what they are.   I am not sorry that I am human, flaws and all. I am not sorry that I want to know all of you; the good the bad and the real. I am not sorry that when I see one hurting and pouring out their heart to me, I have wanted to share that I too have been there and where my truths and personal victories came from. I am not sorry that when I share all of me, my hope is that you will share all of you. I am not sorry that I am open to the fullest connection. I am not sorry that I told the blunt truth even if it hurt, because others have done so for me and it was my defining moments of clarity. I am not sorry that I must grow and learn from this and now know that not everyone wants the same kind of relationship.

Yes, we are called to encourage, lift up, edify and bring joy.  However, if I saw you walking straight into oncoming traffic, I would grab you and pull you out of the danger zone. I would not smile and wave you on.

Let me say to the ones that are absolutely completely my polar opposites, that love me just as I am, to those that can discuss everything under the sun, even if we don’t agree and still smile across the table without being offended, that will tell me when I am too much, or that they flat out believe I am insane because I believe in a God that speaks to me and they don’t believe in one at all, thank you. Thank you for loving me, and making the effort to be true with me. Thank you for not discarding me like so many have. Thank you for the lesson that just because you want someone to love you, it doesn’t mean they will, but others are waiting. I am sorry for the disconnect, but I am not sorry for being me.

Lord help me walk in this truth. Reveal where I lack and give me the wisdom needed to know who is my community. 

Ephesians 4:20-32 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[a] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.