“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord…” –Psalm 19:14
When my children were little we received some tapes from a kind Mennonite group. One tape had little children singing the above verse. It was very sweet and surprisingly catchy. I found myself humming it around the house. It is a humbling verse because I know the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart are not always acceptable in the sight of my Lord. I know I tend to react (or overreact) verbally when my children are misbehaving instead of heeding those teaching words of scripture. I come from a long line of loud women…and I take full responsibility for my own tongue.
When my children were babies the words of my mouth would praise their every little action or sound. I would babble right along with them and in their eyes I could see a real connection taking place. It was magical. Their whole bodies would show excitement at the sound of my voice when rescuing them from nap time. My words were soothing and encouraging. And then they got older and my words changed a bit. There were many more commands and corrections. The “bad dog” tone of voice showed up and they had to learn the new language of “no”. As time went on I used a mixture of encouraging and corrective words, depending on the moment and, unfortunately, depending on the mood or circumstances of the day.
I will own that I didn’t always seek to use the words the Lord would have me use to correct my children for their edification. I didn’t always speak to my husband with kind words. I was guilty of spewing out poisonous words of nagging and manipulation. I would see my children’s eyes gloss over when I would lecture, giving analogy after analogy. It was hard because when I was encouraging a sister in Christ with an analogy they enjoyed them and would often comment later how something I had said had positively impacted their lives. Thankfully the Lord didn’t allow me to remember what I’d said so I could not boast at my own wit or creativity. What I failed to understand with my children, and with my Lord, is that listening needs to take place in order for me to know if my words are even necessary. His words are a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, not my words.
“Our profit comes not from the quantity of words, but from the quality. Sometimes much is said, but nothing is heard, and at another time you hear only one word and it remains in your memory for your whole life.” -St. Anthony
My girls are nearly grown and our words towards each other have changed. Yes there are still corrections and commands but the volume is being turned down on my words and being turned up on theirs. Pretty soon mine will be mostly muted as they enter into womanhood and, if the Lord allows, wife-hood and motherhood. My words will be more "by request only" as I step back and watch them live their lives. I pray the words they retain from the years of words coming from my mouth are those of repentance, confession, prayer, forgiveness, mercy and any word that brings glory to my God. And may the words they speak to their husbands, children and the world be full of the goodness of the Lord, in spite of the fallen state of their mother.
To God be the glory. Amen.
To read more about how we use our words, check out these blogs:
- Cristina Perdomo (Orthodox Christian — Orthodox Church in America (OCA)) ofReachingfromadistance on Cement
- Dn Stephen Hayes (Orthodox Christian) of Khanya on What’s that you were saying?
- Susan Cushman (Orthodox Christian) of Pen & Palette on How We Use Our Words: “Christian” is Not an Adjective
- Katherine Bolger Hyde (Orthodox Christian) of God Haunted Fiction on Eat your Words