Sometimes I pick the kiddos up from school. Last week, I parked in a different spot than usual. It just so happens that there is an alley that is directly across the street that, if it kept going, would run right into the school building. Anyway, I parked there and waited until school let out because sometimes, due to no parking spaces, we just keep driving around in circles until the kids come outside. If they don't see me right away, sometimes they wonder if I'm late or forgot to pick them up. So I parked across the street so that the kids would see our vehicle easily.
Most times, Hope and Hank come out together. And Hope (being the motherly type) has decided it's her job to advise her brother on pretty much everything. This time, unfortunately, Hank came out alone and after a moment of scanning, saw that we were across the street. Now, mind you, what I'm about to describe all happened in a matter of seconds...
Hank waved to me to acknowledge that he saw me. As I was waving back he started walking in between the parked cars and looking both ways in order to cross the street. I realized what he was doing and started waving my hands in that "No! Stop!" kind of way but he wasn't looking at me, he was checking the street. So I honked my horn to try to get his attention, so he would see that I didn't want him to cross. That didn't work, so since I was still buckled up, I started rolling down the window, unbuckling and opening the door, all at the same time and yelling, "Hank! No! No! Stop!" A woman that was in one of the parked cars started getting out of her car to tell him the same thing, but by that time, it was too late and he darted across the extremely busy street to get to where I was. My heart stopped for the few seconds that it took for him to run across the road and when he climbed in, I really gave him a very loud, frantic and stern talking to about what had happened. In the middle of my ranting, he said to me, "I thought you said to go." I explained to him that I yelled, "NO!" Looking back it was a poor choice of words.
All this has got me thinking about communication and how important that it is to be extremely intentional about how I speak. I really struggle with this sometimes, especially when mothering my five children. In the moment that I just described, I wasn't really thinking about how my words could be misunderstood. I was driven by my emotions (fear, in that instance). In that particular moment, I didn't have time to think about what or how to best convey the message that I needed to communicate.
In most cases, though, time is not such a critical factor when communicating with my children. But unfortunately, all too often, my speech is driven by emotion. In the heat of a frustrated moment, I don't always take the time to stop to think about the tone of what I'm about to say. I'm very careful in choosing the words that I use when talking to my children but not always as careful with my tone of voice (or volume, for that matter.) Unfortunately, this is beginning to reflect itself in my children and how they deal with each other. So often, they are like little mirrors showing me things that I, myself, need to improve.
The Bible tells us a lot about how we should speak. Some of my favorite verses on this issue are:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
A gentle word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Ouch! Those kinda sting a little. But I'm really working on it and, more importantly, praying about it. And I trust that, with God's help, the way I speak will become much less reckless.
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