The power of our words. It’s almost scary of what can happen when we open our mouth to talk. I remember my grandmother wise words of “It’s better to say nothing, if it isn’t going to be nice.” She lived this so well. I look at my life and can think back to multiple occasions of wishing I had listened better.
“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” –Proverbs 13:3
“Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” —Proverbs 21:23
“Spread love everywhere. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” -Mother Theresa
Nanny, Mother Theresa and Solomon (or whoever wrote that part of Proverbs) are onto something. I don’t think that we even need these words to convince us that this is true. Has responding to a situation with negativity ever resulted in making it better? Have you ever fixed your relationship with a friend by cursing or spouting off whatever comes to your mind? Did that jab at your spouse or co-worker make life better or more peaceful? I’d be shocked if you said it did. It’s just common sense!
Then why is it so hard when we are angry or wronged? I am the first to admit that for some of my life, I probably had a comeback if you attacked me or someone I loved. I would not always choose to ignore it or find a way to make the situation better. But I have worked hard. And still need to.
Over the past few years, changing my responses has been progressing. But now, this particular problem for me typically comes out when I’m tired or stressed and guess who gets the brunt of that? My sweet husband. I’m not really just talking about throw down fights. For me it can be not saying anything. It might be a quick complaint of how I would have done it differently. But seriously, how rude is that?
Here are some stupid examples of this and I am embarrassed to admit it but this is the truth and I’m living out loud with you people now. So I’ve learned that when man does the dishes and puts everything back in the wrong places and you cannot find anything while you are cooking the next time, who cares. If he folds the clothes who cares if it looked more like it he was clinging on for dear life in a tornado? He did it out of love to help me. I’m sure he’d rather be watching television or out golfing. A simple, “Thank you” or “I appreciate that, babe.” Not, “Um, thanks.” “Could you do it like this next time?” I’m learning. I really am. This therapist we used once gave me a really good advice and I’ll never look at those kind of things the same way.
I’ve actually recently challenged myself in this area with one of my kids. One of my offspring tends to push the limit. Boy is it easy to respond in annoyance or frustration. We met with a lady (yes, another therapist) about our parenting for her and found out that our response was the exact opposite of what she needed. It actually broke my heart to know we went that long. She needed gentle, kind words to show her what she needed to do. Even when she did the exact opposite of what I asked. I now calmly ask her to take a break until she was ready. I gave her space and walked away if I thought I was going to jump out of my skin. This stuff really worked for her. I also work on the Positive Behavior Support Project so I have no idea why I did not apply it to my parenting. I need to listen to the research for my personal life as well.
It’s been about 6 months of this and it actually helped us a lot in our relationship with her. By no means do I have a perfect kid and have totally fixed the situation. But, I have learned from this little creature that I really do need to love like Jesus. At the end of the day, that is our calling. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. Loving Him and loving others was His greatest commandment.
We can’t take our words back. We need to love with all our might and clench our mouths and ask for strength to keep them closed when it’s going to be ugly. Sometimes, I need to pray hourly if it’s been a bad day or this house gets grumpy mommy. Loving my family well is part of my purpose.
So, I am challenging myself to run this race with gentle words that can only lift others up. I’ve seen this in so many areas recently and as I look back through the years. I hope that I continue to find this area important. Our relationships are absolutely worth holding our tongue and shutting our traps. Even when he buys neapolitan ice cream because it was on sale and all you wanted was chocolate peanut butter cup. Just saying. It’s still dessert!