Sticks and Stones

I am rarely at a loss for words, this should surprise no one who knows me, and for the most part I think this is a plus for me. On the other hand, as I look back at raising my children there are times when I wish I had been at a loss for words. As young mothers, the task can quickly overwhelm us, and we come to a place some days where we throw good sense out the window, and words fly from our mouths that should never have taken flight.

Now that my kids are older, I am happy that they seem to have survived those early years. Many nights I went to bed praying that the Lord would fix what I messed up that day in the hearts and minds of my kids. Young hearts are tender and little spirits are fragile. I believe it is our duty to raise children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, but sometimes we mistake that to mean we are to raise them in the fear and admonition of us!

I can remember telling my husband when my two oldest boys were still small, that I had to make them afraid of me while I was still bigger than they were because one day those boys were going to be bigger than me, and I had to get control on the front end! Well, those two boys are now bigger than me, and I have learned my mistake.

They are not afraid of me at all. Go figure… They do show me great love and respect, and it is out of that they honor me (most of the time) rather than out of any fear they may have of me.
Thank goodness.

Yes, I do still hold the power to make their lives miserable. I can take phones away, turn of the TV, computer, and their ipods if need be. I can park my oldest son’s car and send him walking. I’m not saying that I have removed completely the fear factor in our relationship, but I have tried to temper the words that come from my mouth. I can love and sacrifice for them all day, and destroy it all in a thoughtless moment when hurtful words leave my mouth.

It’s true, isn’t it? Just think back to your own childhood. You probably have trouble exactly quoting your parent with regard to something encouraging they said, but I’ll
bet you can perfectly quote a careless phrase spoken to you in anger or frustration.

I’d like to say that I no longer ever say thoughtless things to my kids… I’d like to say that. While the stresses of having four little kids have gone away, new stresses come upon me as they grow up and out from under my care and protection. Still I have learned some things, and I do watch my mouth better.

I love to laugh and joke with my children. As they get older, it gets more fun as they understand humor, sarcasm, irony and they can enjoy a good laugh with me.

I was reminded recently that even humor can do damage.

Dinner at our house is usually a fun time to relax and share about our day. We laugh a lot at dinner, and I love it. But even laughter can get out of hand. I can’t remember the context of the conversation, but my daughter was talking about something being “lame” (a.k.a. “uncool”), and that’s when I did it. I turned my attention to my second son and said, “Oh, you mean like Ryan?”

Now my Ryan is a lot of things, but he is not lame. He’s cute, smart, conscientious, and funny. I would never have called him lame if he were really lame. (THAT would be lame) What mother would do that? But I saw instantly in his eyes that I had crossed the line. He smiled and laughed, but I knew my mistake. I immediately reassured him that I was completely joking, but I so wished I had not said it.

These things happen. Sometimes it’s hard to see the line we shouldn’t cross.

That same week, my daughter was eating a Popsicle and suddenly screamed “brain freeze!” to which I replied, “Honey you have to HAVE a brain to have brain freeze.” It was funny. She laughed, really laughed, and we moved on. No harm done there. No line crossed.

It’s no mistake that the Bible emphasizes the power of the spoken word. The world itself was created with a word spoken. The two-word phrase, “Crucify him!” brought death to Jesus.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue…
Proverbs 18:21

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

We can play fast and loose with our words, but our children, and others, will pay the price here, now, and for years to come. One day we, too, will pay a price.

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…
Matthew 12:36

We can’t underestimate the power of our words to give life or to take it away. As mothers we gave our children life as they grew in our wombs for those nine… long… months.

Now that we hold them in our arms, or wish we still could, we are no less responsible for nurturing them and helping them become all God intends them to be. We can feed them healthy foods, make sure they have the best education, enroll them in every passing opportunity. But it could be all for naught if we do not speak holy words to them from our lips.

Yes we must correct and discipline our children, but even those words must be spoken from a heart of love. I know it’s a tall order. I know we will fail some days. But thankfully at the end of the day we can pray for the Father to fix what we screwed up, and we can try again tomorrow.

So what do you think?

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