Heart Check: How are your words?
The flashing blue and red lights in the rearview mirror cut me short in what was, in my mind, a well-deserved lecture for my children. On the way to Bible Study, no less. Because isn’t that always the way?
One child slunk down in embarrassment, another pretended to take a nap, and two started to tear up in sympathy as the officer approached my car. I got a speeding ticket that day.
It was a parenting moment they won’t soon forget.
As I reflected later in the day on how we got there (12 hours later, after slogging through to the finish line of bedtime, with frozen yogurt for dinner, no less), I realized the turning point in the morning was actually thirty minutes before we walked out the door. That was when I made the decision to engage in verbal sparring with one of my children rather than respond with patient instruction.
Oh, that I had remembered Proverbs 16:24, which encourages us, “Kind words are like honey, good for the soul and healing to the body.”
Kind words are like honey, good for the soul and healing to the body.
How differently might that morning have gone had I listened to my daughter’s actual need rather than simply hearing the tone of her words. Would we have still been late? Most certainly. I have four little girls, which means lots of hair and wardrobe changes before most people have even finished their first cup of coffee.
But my children would not have long remembered the delay.
Far longer in their memory would have been the encouragement, the feeling of being seen, the building up of their little selves in a world of much uncertainty. It would have been just one small moment, admittedly.
But the fabric of our children’s identity is built up by small moments, that when strung together, become everything.
With four verbal, passionately emotive girls between 8 and 2 years of age, it seems like a never-ending struggle to pour honey from my lips rather than short, stress-laced words. The days often feel endless, a merry-go-round of monotony set to the latest Disney soundtrack. Every day can start to feel like the one before, busy and yet uninspiring.
When our hearts are frazzled, discontent, anxious, or discouraged, rarely will we find words of encouragement, kindness, joy, or patient instruction readily pouring out of our mouths. As Jesus admonished in Matthew 12, “…out of the heart’s overflow the mouth speaks.” The cascading effect of our harsh or harried words is that quickly those little souls entrusted to us also turn anxious, or mirror back our broken attitude.
Thank goodness though, that on our most ugly-hearted days, there is still hope. Many times do I cry out like the psalmist for God to, “Search me and know my heart….and my anxious thoughts…..and lead me in the way everlasting.”
In the battle for our hearts and those of our children, we are not alone.
With our words, mamas, we can do so much good and also quickly cause so much destruction. But if the last moment was a disaster, thank goodness that the next does not have to be. In slowing down, we can model repentance, embrace forgiveness, and laugh at our mistakes.
And hopefully, avoid a speeding ticket as well.