I reread a quote by Bob Goff in a forward he wrote for his wife’s book. “Kind words from the people we love have the power to help us all understand who we are and what we want our lives to mean.” I found this so encouraging because I do love words, especially ones with shaping power. The problem is sometimes my words do not ring with love or help at all. They spill out in criticism and do nothing but tear down. Other times, I hear words that do the same. Sometimes I am so shocked by a conversation that I stay up long into the night reliving it. The result of this recently caused a fire to consume me and I determined to go another way for our family.
So, whose words do you listen to? Whose words do you allow the power to shape who you are? The words I listen to most come from the ones I love the most. God speaks to me each morning from His Word and I replay our conversations throughout the day. The Bible is shaping me, making me more into His likeness by changing my heart each day. I have a very long way to go, but I am closer today than I was yesterday. My husband and kids speak lots of words too and we laugh a lot. When we hear words that are not loving, do not build up or are untrue, we question the speaker. Sometimes the person speaking needs to go spend sometime alone and think about what is in their heart that is pouring out of their mouths. At times this is me. I come back and apologize and ask for forgiveness. When you see how you hurt people with your words by looking into their eyes, no amount of stubborn pride is worth leaving that look there. Do what you must to make things right now.
Sometimes words spoken sound like such bull. I want to shout, “I’m not buying it!” so loudly and one day I just might! Other times I want the speaker to keep talking and I soak them up like the sun. This happened recently when we got to catch up with friends that we haven’t seen in years. We met for dinner and I wished we had more hours in person together. This friend is one who loves Jesus with her whole heart, loves her family well and is trustworthy. We all need people like this in our lives. We can learn a lot from them. If you are running low on these kind of friends, pray and ask the Lord.
In the book of Ephesians, we read how we are to speak the truth in love. This is key. I listen when words are spoken in love. I close up when they are not. Also, it seems to not speak the truth is not loving at all. Why parents shrink back from truth baffles me. What are we so afraid of? Do we really think our kids need us to be their friend or do they need us to be their parent? I am siding with the parent role, friendship is there, but it is not the main part of our relationship. I have not seen this turn out well.
When we deny our kids truth, we deny them love in my opinion. To not share with them God’s plans, direction, promises, rules, love, who He created them to be and salvation, we lead them straight into the open arms of the world. Why are we so surprised when they have no purpose, believe whatever their professors tell them or get into trouble? Yes, their decisions are theirs to make and so are the consequences, but we could do so much more to lessen these if we would speak truth from the minute they are entrusted to us. This is what makes my heart race and a honest to goodness fire burn inside of me. This is what I want to shout from our roof to all that will hear.
Tell them, “Pay careful attention to how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15). I want to raise kids who are wise, don’t you? Real wisdom is very easy to find, just open your Bible and it is right there in all 66 books. When they start to head down an unwise path, redirect them back to the path of the wise. We recently had to do this with one of our kids who started listening to some pretty bad music. The reason was that “everyone” listened to this kinda of stuff. We looked up lyrics to one of the popular songs and had this child read them out loud. The message of this song was discussed and then truth was put beside it. Just telling a child not to listen to certain stuff does not seem to work. Talk about it and see what God has to say about the matter. Do not make excuses for sin. That seems to be the most unloving thing we can do. It is as if we are saying, “Go ahead, head down that road straight to heartbreak and ruin.”
Tell them, “Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you…” (Isaiah 43:4). Tell them , “…everyone who bears my name and is created for my glory. I have formed them; indeed, I have made them.” (Isaiah 43:7). Tell them, “Guard you heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” (Proverbs 3:22). Tell them, “For a man’s ways are before the LORD’S eyes, and he considers all his paths.” (Proverbs 5:21). Tell them, “For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 5:13). Even when we do not understand He is still good and His love remains. God sees it all, nothing is hidden from Him. Are they treating others with the knowledge that they too are precious, honored and loved by God who created them for His glory? Are we telling them this before they head out on a date?
There is so much to say here, but dinner needs to be made. We will sit around our table and talk about truth and in doing so we will be loving our kids the best way we know how. I can think of no better way to bring in the new year.