Sunday, August 2, 2009

Building permit

Photo by teofilo on Flickr
Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

The day we left Puerto Rico and went to Disneyworld was ghastly. I'll sum up by saying that it involved way too much time in airports, time in planes, vomit, and luggage (to haul along with all three kids). It contained way too little rest, healthy food, patience, and luggage (which disappeared for a day, leaving us with the vomited-on clothing we were wearing).

I was still grouchy the next morning. I was snapping at everyone. When I finally listened to my tone, I was appalled. See, I am pretty careful with the actual words that are used. I won't call my children or husband names or use profanity. I try to avoid shaming or hateful words. The thing was, my tone was conveying every bit of the hatefulness and shaming that my words were glossing over. And my family, like most people, got the message loud and clear.

One reason that I post a lot on grace and freedom is that a part of me takes advantage of legalism. The meanest part of me likes being able to follow the letter of the law, even when I am completely ignoring the spirit, so that I can ignore guilt.

Ariana is always the most outwardly sensitive one, and she let me know that her feelings were deeply hurt. I apologized and was graciously forgiven, but I knew that I had to make a conscious effort to not repeat it. I started thinking of all the verses that talk about letting our speech be used to build others up. I was using my tone of voice to tear them down. What if I made it a point not to say anything unless it was something that would build someone else?

So I started a little experiment. I've messed up a few times, but not nearly as much as I would have if I didn't keep this in mind. Especially when I am irritated, I try to decide if my words and tone of voice merit a building permit. The results are surprising me. Already, I've noticed that the kids are less anxious. I'm getting more eye contact from them and Carlos. The kids are having fewer meltdowns. I've been getting tons of "Mami, I love you. And I like you lots" from the kids and many more "I love yous" from Carlos, too. Which, naturally, is starting to become its own cycle of feeling happier and more loving.

The last couple of days have been really good. I think this needs to go from experiment to permanent practice. :)


Maria said...

Thank you for this wonderful reminder that the heart matters. I tend to fall in to this trap when I get busy and have noticed I say words that are acceptable with a tone that is unacceptable and does not convey love. My family will be joining me Tuesday. I will definitely be keeping this post in mind!

Polly said...

great post!!!!! a wonderful reminder