Who really gets our kindest words?
I mean, I’ll say thank you to a stranger for handing me my receipt at the store, but I don’t say anything to my husband for taking out the trash.
I’ll apologize profusely for bumping into someone on accident in public, but I’ll tell my kids to move if they are in my way.
Who gets the nicest us? Is it the people we live with, or is it strangers?
Now notice I said the nicest us, not the real us. I know some of you are thinking Yeah, I tell strangers thanks but don’t really mean it. I apologize for bumping into someone and then forget about it.
Doesn’t matter. It’s still nicer to tell someone sorry than it is to bark “move!” at someone else. I know that I definitely act more real to those closest to me, because I am more comfortable with them. I know that my husband and kids are going to accept me as I am, so I am real with them.
Unfortunately, the real me says unkind things to my family sometimes.
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
How kind are we to those who are closest to us? Do you struggle with this too, friends?
With my spouse…
I take him for granted. Now, I will say I don’t speak unkindly to him very often at all. But, how often do I speak kindly? I’ve realized there’s a difference. There’s an in-between, a gray area that seeps into my words without my realization. When I think of kind words, I think of words that I actually have to add to my regular vocabulary. Not just, “Hey, d’you have a good day?” or “Be careful. See you this evening.” To me, those are just regular words. They are civil words. They are a little bit nice.
But I will say “Thank you,” to a bagger at the grocery store for taking my bags to the car for me. I will even add a whopping “Thank you so much” sometimes! I totally leave this sentiment out when Chris takes the groceries from the car up to the kitchen for me.
And before anyone says “Well, yeah, that’s your spouse’s job to help you!”, I do realize that. I also realize it’s the bagger’s job to help me, too. So why does he get my kind words instead of my spouse?
Who gets my kindest words?
With my kids…
In my experience, I speak a little more nicely to my kids in the mornings. But by evening, when I’m wearing down and so are they, my words become increasingly shorter, more clipped, and sometimes louder.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine usually need more redirection as the night goes on, especially on school nights. Once the homework, rest, and supper is over, my boys get rowdy and restless. Apparently, I am too at this time because I get…well, “fussy.”
At school, I am known for keeping my cool. When people so nicely have complemented me in the past on my quiet voice, I would jokingly say, “Don’t talk to Chris and the boys! They may tell you different!”
Lately, I’ve come to see much truth in that statement and it saddens me.
And I have found that the more I allow myself to speak with an unkind voice, the harder it is to go back. The more I allow myself to wear a scowl on my face, the harder it is to smile.
But it’s not impossible.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
As with everything else in our lives, the answer to this is simple. Ask God for help. More than that, even, give our self-control over to God and let Him control our actions, motives, and our words.
I gave this situation to God, and He has indeed paved the path for giving my family the kindest “me.” He has pointed out the extraordinary characteristics of my husband and given me the kind words to compliment my husband on his extraordinary characteristics, and on the seemingly ordinary tasks he does every day. He has pointed out the spiritual, physical, and emotional growth of my children and given me specific words to say in order to edify them daily.
And He has given me His strength to kindly, consistently, and firmly correct them when they need it the most.
Several months ago, I had the privilege of talking with my friends in the Missouri-based acoustic group Southern Raised. This phenomenal group of sisters and brother travel the country together singing and playing their instruments for God’s glory. I asked Sarah, one of the sisters, what it was like being with her siblings practically 24/7. Here’s what she said (which convicted me heart and started the process of carefully guarding my words to my family). “We were raised to be best friends with each other. We were taught to save our kindest words for our family and that tension and fighting were not options. It is amazing to now tour and work daily with our best friends! I am so grateful for our raising; it prepared us for working in a close relationship together. We have so much fun as a family, so many moments of laughter and fun, making sweet memories forever!” The kindness, camaraderie, and sincerity flow from Southern Raised whether you are watching them live or online. By the way, here is my favorite video of them. It absolutely rocks.
Is your family counted among your best friends? They should be. I know my husband and children are my among my best friends. In fact, they are closer than my best friends. So, really, they should be treated with my best intentions. They should have my best words…my kindest words.
Today, I want to share the hymn “He Keeps Me Singing.” I think that as Christians, we have God’s song in us all the time. No matter our circumstances, He keeps us singing as we go. I don’t want a stranger to mistake His song in me for meanness. I don’t want my husband to hear nagging instead of God’s song. I don’t want my children to think that the Jesus I say I follow has a song that sounds like a clanging cymbal. I want my words to reflect His song, the one I proclaim to sing no matter my circumstances. Take a listen!