How Kind Words Can Shape Your Family
I have a new fascination with the works of William Shakespeare! As the great artist of the English language, he was, because of his skill with words, named the man of the millennium in the year 2000. To hear a Shakespearean actor speak the clever phrasing of a play while using intense emotion is artistic greatness for the ears. I have not yet begun speaking in a British accent instructing the children that their laundered clothes “by any other name would smell as sweet,” or “to be or not to be” late to church is the question…but it could happen!
Shakespeare’s craft also included the writing of sonnets, one of which praised the state of being married and having a family. It romantically compared family life to a lovely melody sung in unison:
“Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering,
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who, all in all, one pleasing note do sing.”
How I wish this “happy mother” always painted the same picture of harmony as Shakespeare did in his poetry! At times, the notes sung in my home are dissonant, like two music notes, one half step apart, played at the same time. These notes are close, yet discordant when heard simultaneously.
How can I use my words skillfully to produce a sweet melody; what is my role as a wife and mother in bringing about harmony with those closest to me?
Recently, when reading Proverbs 31:26, the Lord highlighted a phrase for me. It reads, “the law of kindness is on her tongue.”
Law – Governor, authority, rule
Kindness – The Hebrew word, “chesed,” used to describe the faithful lovingkindness of God. Gentle, favorable, desiring to do good to others.
How can I apply this “law of kindness” to my family dynamic?
First, I have made a prayer-priority to ask the Lord to put the law of kindness on my tongue. I want Him to instruct me and convict me when I speak with my family. Sometimes with the children, when they speak disrespectfully, I ask them how to address me correctly and ask them to rephrase their statement or request. In the same way, I try to rephrase my communication in the home so that kindness is the rule. Sometimes, this includes an apology to the children or my husband. I have also asked the Lord to change my heart and give me understanding so that I might be kind with my words.
Second, I am learning some practical guidelines to help me. Guidelines such as, Am I using kind words, words that show respect, and words that are true? Am I excluding sarcasm, irritation, and anger? Is the tone of my voice consistent with the words that I am speaking? I have asked my children to respectfully make me aware when my communication is hurtful to them. I am also learning that, on occasion, choosing silence and praying for the situation is the most kind response.
And third, these verses have helped me understand the importance of kindness:
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. (Prov 3:3)
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Col 3:12)
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:4-5)
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (Jms 1:19-20)
How thankful I am for the grace that the Lord extends to me and to my family! Even in the process of writing this article, I have had a spirited debate with my husband and sent a child to their room when I was at the end of my patience. Yet, I do believe that this “shrew” can be tamed! Every day is an opportunity for me to obey and grow in understanding. In the dynamic of strong and expressive personalities that the Lord has created in my family, may the law of kindness rule our communication with one another!