I am tired.
Tired of whining, complaining, back-talking, yelling, screaming, kicking, fighting, and one-way conversations.
I am referring to my 5 year old, but I am not thinking of him alone.
It seems like all I can see lately is negativity around me. I see it on my social media feeds. I hear it from my friends. And I feel like I am adding to it also, and my heart feels heavy and dark from it. Even my husband has noticed my negativity.
I am at a point in my parenting where I need to make some adjustments. My children are growing and weaving their way through stage after stage and I am barely able to catch my breath as I try to keep up with them.
And I am finding something that I think is a huge barrier to helping these fierce beings grow into loving, compassionate, understanding, and generous humans.
Not the four letter kind that we wouldn’t dare mention.
No, something I consider much worse.
The name calling, labeling, pigeon-holing, dooming, defining ones that cling to us and can become intertwined with who we believe ourselves to be.
And I am guilty as a parent of doing this to my children.
I know I can ache like the rest of you mamas can when someone hurts your child, whether intentionally or not, with words or deeds. I know what it feels like to watch my child do something they shouldn’t and receive a natural consequence in return – but I wish the person inflicting it had chosen a different route.
It is easy to be indignant when I am not the one at blame.
But I see myself letting this same attitude creep under my skin and come out in ugly roars when my children test and prod and push my buttons. When they repeatedly (how many times do I have to say it?) make the same foolish mistake again and again and I have to step in and muster up whatever mother-wisdom I have and discipline and watch them suffer through the consequences of their choices (usually with loud protests).
So many times I catch myself speaking so many bad words that are not speaking truth into their lives and are simply used as a shortcut to get what I want at that moment.
Words cut deep and leave very real scars. And when we are careless with them, if we don’t catch ourselves, we can continue to become more and more insensitive to what we are doing, what we are creating, what we are leaving.
My social network feeds are full of them. Labeling people on one side of an argument in the same way those in opposition label them. Jumping to conclusions about the way people think and how they came to an understanding of something. Maybe we don’t outright yell it in their faces, but some times passively stating it can be even worse, perhaps causing more people to begin to believe the words are being spoken about them.
Because in a world where there is so much noise and so many questions about who we are and so much insecurity as we are told who we should be and what we should believe, how many are questioning themselves and fearful that maybe they aren’t who they think? Or they should start thinking of themselves as different?
I believe strongly that when someone is sent the same message about themselves over and over again, they will start to believe it. If I continually tell my child that he is obnoxious and always too rough and never listens, what words will he cling to?
I am not saying that there is no bad or evil in the world. I’m not saying to pretend like there is nothing wrong ever. There is abuse that must be spoken out against, injustices that must be heard, issues that we must have conversations about, disagree about, and wrestle through.
But where are the good words?
Not the superficial ones to get out of a conversation with someone you “know” you don’t agree with only to turn to those who do and further label and degrade that person in opposition as someone who clearly can’t think for themselves.
Where are all the good words?
The ones that inspire, motivate, and invite us into truth. Even if we don’t always know what that means at the moment. The ones that cause pause and reflection. Or even if they don’t. Is a good and truth-filled word a wasted word?
I am choosing to speak more good words. Not just to your face, but behind your back too.
I want my children to see not only that they are worthwhile, but to see the good in others affirmed, that their hearts will also learn to reach out and share good words with others.
Jesus did not go on about the women’s adulterous act. He simply said to sin no more. He did not define her as an adulterer. He defined her as a valued, forgiven, and loved co-heir and daughter of God.
If the good news we bear on our hearts and lives is not evident, then who are we really representing?
They will know us by our fruit.
They will also know us by our words.
“Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”