As parents we may feel this way quite often when our children are constantly calling our name, complaining, arguing, or being disobedient in one way or another. It can be quite a challenge to keep our cool. In fact, sometimes when we are so tired and weary of these actions, we lose it. We collapse. We explode. We instantly snap into emotional frustration and anger. Where our tongues were once kept in check with methodical consciousness of what to say and what not to say, they now become like a loose canon shooting forth destructive words that slam into the ears of our precious children. It’s not until our lungs release, the smoke clears, and with a big sigh we return to reality. We realize we have just hurt our children. We have caused pain with the most powerful part of our bodies - the tongue.
Looking back on my childhood, I am reminded of how words spoken to me had a great effect on my life, both in encouraging and destructive ways. Most of the destructive words spoken to me were fueled by anger. Both of my parents displayed this kind of anger occasionally, but let me just say that I believe that my parents raised me to the best of their knowledge. I believe they never meant to hurt me with their actions. I believe that my parents loved me; they just did not always speak the way God intended for love to be spoken.
As a parent myself today, I, too, struggle just like my parents did. I, too, believe that I am raising my daughter to the best of my knowledge. I know that I do not ever want to hurt my daughter, but on occasion I do. And I believe that she knows that I love her even though there have been many times when I have not spoken love as God intended me to.
A few years ago, something happened to me that made a huge difference in my life concerning anger and words. There was a period of time where I was really getting angry with my daughter a lot. I would get angry about silly little things like what she decided to wear that day or if she made a mess in the kitchen and so forth. I started realizing the severity of my anger when the range of decibels in my voice was so high that I knew next door neighbors could hear me. The words I chose to speak in those moments were definitely destructive. I began saying really hurtful words like “Are you stupid?!”...“What’s wrong with you?!”..."Why can’t you be normal?!” As God began to open my eyes to this destructive pattern (which I myself had witnessed as a child), I asked Him to help me overcome it. I prayed every day about my anger. I searched the scriptures on anger but also on speech. What began to happen to me was a miracle that only God could do. Every time I would get angry and raise my voice at my daughter I would start to cough. The coughing was so bad that I had to stop lecturing her on her imperfections to get a sip of water. Time after time I coughed, unable to speak to my daughter. As the coughing increased, the destructive words began to decrease. I became more aware of the poison I was spewing out of my mouth. I began to see the terror and fear in her eyes as the tears streamed down her precious face. I had asked God to help me. I did not know how or in what way He would help me. I just believed. In that belief, I found my miracle - the cough. But the miracle did not stop there. God began to heal me from the inside out through the counsel of His Holy Spirit and His Word. Several Scriptures lighted my way …
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You LORD, my rock and my Redeemer."
"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check."
"Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity ... All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice."
Ephesians 4: 26, 27, 31
"My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness."
A transformation took place like a butterfly from a cocoon. I began to speak to my daughter with a calm voice. I began to speak encouraging words, hoping that they would somehow over time replace the ones that tore her down. I began to realize the true power of the tongue when used as the Lord intended. Now this doesn’t mean that I never disciplined her when she needed it, but it does mean that I responded in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord. I chose to no longer be a loose canon blasting destructive words into my daughter’s ear but more of a butterfly in flight with beautiful phrases.
The miracle was the cough, but it’s not what God used to answer my prayer. What answered my prayer is my willingness to go to Him and say that I was weak and that I could not overcome this weakness on my own. That’s when God responds to us. That’s when miracles happen.
Keep it up and carry on,