The words spill fast. Faces fall and hearts crumble to the floor in pieces. Stomping, tears, then arms enfolding. Soft whispers into small hearts that each day seem to grow bigger, stronger, oh please Lord, make them softer.
The tongue is a beast too difficult to tame on our own. A tool that can be used to build up, or tear down. Too often I find myself biting off words, with too little thought for how the heart receives them.
I read recently – an employer speaks to, yes, even reprimands, the employee with kindness, gentleness and respect. What makes me think I can treat my own children as any less than that?
Encourage one another and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
We’ve been learning about using our words to encourage and bless. About taming the tongue, softening our hearts to each other, serving with our words. It’s hard! Days are short, nights are even shorter, mommas are tired, stretched, seeking sanity and just trying to catch a break. And then we snap. And our little ones receive the brunt of it yet again.
Sometimes a visual reminder helps a lot. Sometimes we need to see with our eyes the direct effect of what we say. So we collect, one block for each kind word spoken.
And we remove, one block for each unkind word released. We encourage, lift up, bless, but then forget, and in our selfishness tear down a portion of the wall we worked so hard to build. At the end of the day, we see the progress made.
It starts as a practice, the kids looking hard for the ways to earn their blocks. Not totally genuine, not just yet. But in the practicing comes the genuineness. Over the days of trying, the words become not just trying, but truth. We mean what we say.
Practice makes perfect.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
Exhibit the words of encouragement. Practice the words of praise. Bring the blessing. They will follow you as you follow the example of Christ in serving.
And momma? You’re going to mess it up. And they’re going to forget. But there is grace and mercy that has been given to you. You give it too.
Ask yourself, why am I reacting this way? Is it stress or worry? Selfishness or hurry? Go slow, give up control, give up yourself, let God.
“The older I get and the more I see my own selfishness and immaturity, the more grateful I am that I know I don’t have to perform for the Lord. He is mindful that I am but dust, and yet He still calls me His own special child.” (Sally Clarkson, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe).
What about how we “speak” to others? What about those Facebook posts I see and want to react to?
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:1-3)
Build up and bless. Don’t react, ask yourself if it’s something you would say to the person IN person. If not, hold your typing tongue.
What about the young mom you see in Ikea, with the screaming 4 year old you can hear coming from a mile away? Do you turn away in disgust, or find a way to encourage? Or the homeschooling mom you know who’s struggling to get the groceries done along with everything else in her busy day. Or the new mom whose baby just will NOT sleep and she’s been up since 5 am and just can’t catch a break.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behaviour, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonoured. (Titus 2:3-5, NASB)
Be the older woman, no matter your age. A small smile, a word of encouragement, an offer to help, pray, bless.
Build each other up in whatever way you can, whenever you can. For when you do, you are building into eternity.