Day 30: Speaking the truth in love: A guest post

I emailed Elise last week in a panic. I have no more words left to say, I told her. Can you jump in with some of your own? Kind soul, she offered to post for me today, our 30th day together. Welcome Elise Parker, as she shares a personal story on speaking life.

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When I think of friendship, I think of gifts. Because really, isn’t friendship made up of gifts exchanged – time, love, care, sorrows, honor, life?

There are many friends who have come in and out of my life.

Many old friends who I touch base with every year or so…even friends from long ago who are now just Facebook friends. Still the gift of friendship continues, sometimes in lasting memories, impressions, or impact.

One friend who is no longer a day-to-day friend, but still a treasured one who gave me a gift that kept on giving is Elysia. We’re still in touch. In fact, I talked to her for two hours the other day on the heels of her beloved dad’s passing. We were good friends in high school. Though we mostly hung out in different groups, they were groups that intersected often.

Our friendship began through our parents. They had known each other long ago, back in their 20s, their days of college and dating. When our families moved to the same town, they found each other again and socialized a bit. One of the things that brought our families together was a sort of experimental, very early ‘70s kind of family bible study. Initiated by our church, we would meet, several families together in one another’s homes. There we would talk about a godly perspective on the issues of the day, including to some degree the hot-button topics of sex and abortion, among other things. This was my introduction to Elysia.

I remember she was visiting one evening…and we found ourselves upstairs in my room. I was probably just showing her around. We were chatting about teenager stuff, I’m not sure what. But OMG wasn’t an expression yet. Instead, I said “Oh my God” frequently. And when I very naturally used this “expression,” Elysia looked at me a little horrified, eyes round, mouth agape.

“What?” I asked, having no idea why she looked so upset.

“You’re not supposed to use God’s name in vain.”

Well I had done very little bible study, and I wasn’t exactly sure what taking His name in vain meant, but I knew this was one of the 10 Commandments. On one hand, I thought she was being absolutely ridiculous. I didn’t mean any disrespect. It was just an expression…I didn’t really mean God, I meant god. And besides “everyone says that.” We had a little discussion. And though I wanted to defend myself, I couldn’t. I understood in my gut, she was right.

With my careless words, I was treating God with a lack of the reverence He deserved.

This little scenario took place about 40 years ago. I doubt very much my friend remembers it. But I’m grateful to Elysia for this life-changing moment. She stopped me in my tracks with her admonition. With her gift of a few words and her honesty, she’d shown me the importance, the weight of my words.

I’d like to say I’ve never used the Lord’s name in vain again. But that would not be true. However, I’ve never used the Lord’s name in vain since…without recognizing it was not okay.

This little remembrance speaks to me about the importance of speaking up about something you feel strongly about in love. Elysia didn’t shame me. She simply stated something she knew to be true beyond the shadow of a doubt. God’s name deserves to be respected, not tossed around carelessly.

Nowadays, with all the abbreviations used on the Internet, there’s OMG. And yes, I do use that from time to time. But I think I’ll stop because what I really mean is “Oh my goodness,” but the expression is “totes” understood as “Oh my God.” And that’s not okay…

John Piper states that taking God’s name in vain, mean this, “…it doesn’t just refer to a certain tone of voice or a certain use of the word. It’s dealing with God and speaking of God in a way that empties him of his significance.” http://www.christianity.com/theology/what-does-it-mean-to-take-the-lords-name-in-vain-11600552.html

Elise is passionate about story telling and sharing. She is Co-Founder of CirclesOfFaith.org, and a writer, editor, speaker, and writing coach who loves to help others discover the jewels, gems, and nuggets hidden in the treasure of our beautiful, messy lives.

The big game-changer in Elise’s life was when God stepped into her deepest unimaginable pain and offered her Himself. That personal relationship with Him is utmost. After that, she loves her beloved husband, four beautiful daughters, son-in-love, baby granddaughter, and somewhat wild and wacky family. Elise loves building relationships and going deeper with Godfriends and girlfriends and she can’t wait to get to know you!

Join her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.

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This is the 30th 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.

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Day 29: Light in the darkness

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I picked her up from running club thinking she’d tell me about her day on the short ride home. She hopped in the car, all nine years of her, and within thirty seconds of pulling away from the school she said some of the girls had used a word she didn’t understand. They repeated a word they heard in a movie meant for older teens, and could I explain it to her? We covered four letter words years ago, and we have fairly regular talks about sex, so I held my breath for a second when she asked me.

“Mom, what does rape mean?”

My heart dropped like a stone because I don’t know how to speak life into this situation. There is no sugar-coating or making light or explaining it in a way that takes away the horror of living in a world where sexual violence still occurs at an alarming rate. I don’t know how to have these conversations. But years ago, we committed to our children, if they come to us with any question, we will always give them a straight and honest answer. We want to be their first point of contact, and so I found myself on a Tuesday afternoon discussing violence against women and children with my baby.

Sometimes speaking life means speaking the hard things. As much as I want to shield my kids, I also want to shine a light in the dark places. I want them to understand that yes, there is injustice and there is evil. But, I also want to shine the light of Christ on it, showing them we aren’t without hope when we live with the cross as our center.

Rather than hide from the darkness, I’d rather expose it. Rather than pretend evil doesn’t exist, I’d rather fight it. I’m starting small in everyday conversation, speaking the hard things in truth and in love and in an age appropriate matter. It may not change the world, but it just might change the way my kids navigate it.

How do you talk about the hard things with your kids? What do you do when the time comes to go beyond talking, and walking it out in love?

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This is the 29th 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.

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Day 28: Redemption language

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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.

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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.

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Day 27: Priceless

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I met up with friend recently who quietly stored away a handful of things she wanted to say to me when we saw each other in person. Over the past few weeks, she tucked a thought here and pocketed a thought there. When we finally sat down over a meal, one by one she laid out this sweet treasure of words she stored up for that moment in time. I felt so cared for, so satiated on the small feast of her kindness.

I often feel as if I have so little to offer the people I care about, and my friend reminded me that there is an endless well of words I can draw on. I can dip my bucket into the reserves, into the place where I keep all my thoughts of kindness and love and admiration, and I can scoop them up. I can use these words to fill my family when their very bones have gone dry. I can pour life into a friend who need refreshing. I can offer them a gift that costs me nothing, but to them, this treasure of words may be priceless.

Who have you thought of recently with kindness? Who needs the gift of your words today?

This is the 27th 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.

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Day 26: Pleasing to God

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“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

~Psalm 19:14

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This is the 26th 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.

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