“I brought you into this world and I can take you out!”
Words hopefully none of us have ever uttered! But these words are very, very true.
When my sweet babies were placed into my arms that very first time I could hardy believe I had brought life into the world. The pain of labor and delivery immediately swept away by the appearance of a tiny human being who needed me to keep her (and then him, and then once again her) alive! From my lips came soft kisses, a tender voice and late night whispers telling them of my love for them.
We use our voices and lives to speak love, life, confidence, teaching and more into our children; it seems to come fairly naturally when they’re little. But there came a time when from my lips came words and tones that weren’t always so affirming. Those tones and words had the power not to give them life, but to take them out. When one child became two children – some new and raw emotions seemed to come out of nowhere. (Or possibly due to a baby that cried for me and only me. Oh, and he didn’t nap.) Suddenly all my words weren’t so life giving. Words that came forth when milk was spilled could be soaked in impatience and sprinkled with frustration, denting little minds and hearts.
I knew I wanted to breathe life into them, not suck life out of them, so I got help in changing a legacy that had formed within me; I learned how to quit banging into my kids with harsh words and a loud voice. Isn’t it a little bit scary to realize we have this power to shape and mold? I wasn’t always sure I wanted that responsibility; it’s so big, with the ability to affect generations to come!
And the truth is, these darlings of ours can be so darn challenging! But maybe the reality is that the challenge is discovering how to continue to be life giving when circumstances, responses, our children, or people in general aren’t so easy. As moms and women I believe we have a unique ability to keep our sons, daughters, our son & daughter-in-laws, and other women around us afloat when it feels sticky and hard.
As a mom I’m still growing in the life-giving area. Sometimes I’ve said things that have sucked the life right out of my adult and adult-ish kids. I don’t mean to, it’s never my intention and I strive to fix it when I’m aware – or made aware – that I’ve done or said something that took some life out of them. (In the sting of learning I’ve hurt my kid’s feelings, I’m always grateful they trust our relationship to share that truth.) My best guess is I will always be growing in this area because I keep traveling into new territory with them as they get older, have more life experiences and are more independent.
I’ve walked alongside women whose mom’s haven’t been life giving with their words and actions. I believe we have multitudes of opportunities to breathe life into each other in ways that are nurturing, even maternal. With Mother’s Day approaching, look around in your circles, is there a mom within your reach who might benefit from some words of encouragement and life? There are women around us whose moms have passed on, maybe we could send a card or even text those women on Sunday, breathing a little life into them.
Since I met my mother-in-law over 27 years ago she has been kind, gracious, respectful and loving, but I’ve heard that isn’t the experience of every daughter-in-law! If you are a mother-in-law, the power you have to bless your daughter or son-in-law is incredible. I’m not there yet, but when I am I hope to measure my words, tones, time, expectations and authenticity in ways that breathe life into them.
Here’s the bottom line, Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” and Proverbs 16:24 says “Gracious words are flowing honey, sweet to the taste and healing to the bones.” So as a mom, a friend and simply as a woman, I’m aiming for recognizing the power of my tongue, as well as striving to be gracious in my words that I might be healing to the bones and life giving to the soul; that I would give life again and again.