I was on the phone. My oldest daughter was following me around. Every time I moved, she followed. She wasn't interrupting, just following. Finally, I looked at her and said, "Why are you following me around like a lost puppy?" "I wanted to talk to you," she replied and walked away with her head hanging.
We were going to be late to guitar lessons. I looked at my youngest daughter who was busy eating her snack. "Go get your guitar and get in the car!" I said. "Can you ask me to do something instead of yelling? Maybe say please?" she said.
"Are you mad at me?" asks my youngest daughter with a forlorn look on her face. "No, why?" I say. "You sound like you're mad at me," she says.
We've had all of these conversations in the past few days. I'm not proud of any of them. All of them are conversations that could have and should have had a different tone. There's nothing wrong with asking my daughter not to follow me around while I'm on the phone or telling my daughter to get in the car for guitar lessons. What is wrong is that I wounded their hearts in doing so.
I've got a lot on my plate right now. I have a couple of freelance projects I'm working on, hockey and soccer have started back up, we're trying to finish our basement before we have company this summer, I'm speaking at and helping to coordinate our women's retreat. No matter how hard I try, there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.
And to my regret, that frustration and stress comes out in my conversations with my kids. The problem is not that I don't know how to control my words. The problem is that I'm choosing not to. I'm taking out my internal stress on the people I love the most, and it hurts their spirits.
My oldest daughter is super sensitive to the things that people say. I know this, yet I chose not to curb my own tongue. My youngest daughter seems tough on the outside, but she has a sensitive heart, and she hates for people to be mad at her. Yet, I chose not to curb my tongue.
Proverbs 15:1 says "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." I don't want to stir up anger in the hearts of my children. I want my answers to be gentle. I want to guide them wisely. I don't want the pressures in my life to overflow into the way I deal with my kids.
I know that I can do better, but I also know that if I try to do it on my own I'll fail. I've proven that I don't always choose the right path. I don't always think before I open my mouth. So, my prayer this morning is simply a cry for help. Lord, help me to offer gentle answers to my children. Put your hand over my mouth and force me to think before I open it. Let me lead my children, not exasperate them.
I'm placing Proverbs 15:1 in a prominent place in my house today as a reminder to offer gentle answers. Maybe you need to do the same.
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