Sometimes the important conversations with my husband can’t wait, mostly because my frustration demands its voice be heard right this second. They take place in the kitchen, the bathroom, and the front seat of the car. Even better when they’re one-sided, across the telephone. My kids take advantage of this, and I find them lurking behind doors or leaning against the rails of the stairwell to listen. I suspect when they wear headphones they don’t always turn on the music, instead hoping to catch a line of conversation they can squirrel away for later.
I know this because my words often come back to bite me. Like the time my eleven year old told my husband to stop “micromanaging” his life. Or when one of my children called a family member a “hoarder” and “crazy”. Or the time my daughter asked me why I was so “jealous of Jennifer”. They have fifteen years worth of these gems gathered up in the vault of their elephantine memory.
In all my caution and care to speak words of life to my kids, I don’t always remember to care for the words I let fly in other directions. In my weariness or anger, I say words meant for mature audiences only. And I don’t mean calling family members unflattering names or the occasional swearing. It’s inevitable we’ll get called out in those situations.
In my unguarded moments, I still want to choose my words with care so I don’t speak a language children can’t yet understand. A language born out of fear or frustration. A language born out of anger or pessimism or defeat. I want my kids to know I am fallible and I experience all the emotions associated with being human, but I never want my words to burden them with worry or fear.
If words matter, then they matter even more when our emotions want to run away with the alphabet and fashion it into a weapon. When our kids hear us talk about the hard things, our words should come from a place of hope and not despair. We can express our emotions honestly, but let it be born out of a desire for reconciliation rather than a place of bitterness. I want to speak a language of redemption, even when my jealousy or fear or frustration bubbles beneath the surface. Sometimes the impact of our words isn’t so much the words we say, but the spirit behind how we say it.
This is the 28th post in a series called 31 Days of Speaking Life. Want to know more about the 31 Days writing challenge? Hop on over here. Want to receive these posts via email straight into your inbox? Sign up below.