I love words. They are so powerful! They can encourage. They can bring hope. They can inspire you to action. They can also be devastating, heart breaking, and de-motivating. The Bible says it this way in Proverbs 16:24.
"Gracious words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." What a soothing image that creates in my mind. Can you see it? Sweet words coming out of a dear friend's mouth to encourage you. A hand outstretched, the golden words drizzling on it, and then being absorbed into the soul. A glowing light then shines out of you. Gracious words build us up. They help us grow. I'm not talking about superficial, insincere words. Empty flattery. That's not it at all. I'm talking about true, gracious and uplifting words.
A few days ago, it dawned on me that I try to be uplifting and encouraging to my friends and co-workers, but then I'd come home and be critical and only half-way positive with my kids and my husband.
"Thank you," for taking the trash out, and "why didn't you get the rest of your chores done??" I was barely praising them for the good they did. I was criticizing for what didn't look like perfection. Ouch. My goal is to inspire people. What good does it do if I inspire others and don't measure up at home? So I decided to do an experiment. On their chore board, (this is the one I use) I wrote a brief, encouraging and truthful message. Here's what it looked like:
Both my kids are strong willed. Surprise! What else could really come from a very strong willed mom (Me!) and an often stubborn dad? Sometimes being strong willed can have a negative connotation. BUT it could also be called underdeveloped leadership--just like I'm not bossy...I'm directionally gifted. (It's all in how you look at it.) Since this chore chart day, we've been working on leading well. When we were at karate and my son was tempted to goof off more than he listened, I reminded him to lead well. I believe that felt better to him than, "Set a positive example! You're a green belt!" My daughter has been taking the lead in a different form. She is doing chores without being asked. She scrubbed my glass top stove and the inside of the microwave without being asked. IT'S WORKING!
I don't claim to have all the answers or to be a perfect parent or family. We're definitely not perfect. However, each day we are given a choice in how we respond to those around us and how we interact with them. We can encourage them and give helpful tools, or nag them to the point of nothing positive coming out of their mouths anymore. I'm choosing to intentionally work on being positive.
What word choices will you make today?
P.S. If you are wondering why one of their listed chores is "write down all chores," then let me explain a bit. We do Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Junior with our kids. They get paid commissions instead of a set allowance. The trick is they only get paid for what they do AND record. It's just like being a grown up at a job where I don't get paid if I don't clock in, or I don't get paid my spiffs unless I figure them up and turn them in.
P.P.S. Don't you love the "Gracious Words" wall expression pictured above? Me too! It's one of my favorites. If you are interested in getting one of your own, go here. This particular expression I could only get for being a hostess.
I'd love to hear how you keep it real and positive with your family! Comment below.