You can change your world with your words

Most of us know the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

Blog. Smile. 11.21When I first read those words on a gift shop plaque I didn't have to ask myself whether the saying was true.

All I had to do was remember. With regret.  

As a young mom, some days I got up in a bad mood--and spread it around. On those mornings, Mama, the Martyr, would prepare a healthy breakfast for her family--and serve it without a word.  

Mama didn't smile, so neither did anyone else.

Our otherwise bouncing, laughing young daughters would eat silently, then escape ASAP, whether to another room or to wait for the school bus. My sweet husband would gulp down his breakfast, then head for the door with a wave instead of grabbing me for a kiss as he usually did.

And I understood why.

Who could blame them?  

Their moods affected me, too, of course. As in every family, our four kids sometimes couldn't stand each other, resulting in a tiresome refrain of, "Mommy, make her leave me alone!" 

Do you think their whining lifted my spirits and made me a happy mama? Nope. 

Over time I figured out some major truths: 

Whatever the cause of my bad mood I didn't have the right to take it out on my husband and kids. Besides, that never changed anything for the better.

In any and every situation, our mindset determines how we feel--and how we act.

As Abraham Lincoln, the world-famous mental health professional, put it: "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." 

Always, our words can lift each other up or tear each other down 

That's true in parenting. True in a marriage. It's true on the job.

If our kids struggle they don't need our analysis of what's wrong. They need our love and encouragement and quiet listening.

When they slip up it's okay to gently stick to our family standards, along with talking over the whys of why we have them. Then comes the next lesson as we hand out appropriate penalties. 

Allowing our children some freedom to make choices--and also allowing them to live with the consequences of their choices--can be painful, but it grows maturity and confidence.

They grow stronger from within.  

What about teenagers?

Teenagers are on their bumpy way to adulthood. Yes, they need truth and common sense about how to handle life, but it's equally important that they hear us speak our faith and confidence in them as individuals.   

It's good to help them learn life skills by letting them cope. (They'll make mistakes.) They crave words like, "I know you can handle this challenge, because I know how strong and determined you are. I believe in you and so does God and we always, always love you, no matter what."

Sometimes teens seem so self-assured we think we as parents are irrelevant.

Not true! Every survey of teenagers says they want their parents' respect and value their parents' opinions more than any of their peers.

When we speak love we give them what they need most. If we doubt that's true, all we have to do is ask ourselves what we want and need.

Widen the circle

Let's not stop there. Our kind words can lift the hearts of people around us, too.

Picture the mom whose kids are acting up in the Food Court at your local mall, the one who looks frazzled and beat. What if you stopped and said to her, "You have a beautiful family. I can see in your eyes how much you love your children."  

What about the co-worker who seems depressed? What better opportunity to point out some instances when they helped you or someone else? Small kindnesses can make a difference in someone's day.

Or suppose you were chairing a women's event at your church. Someone spills punch all over the serving table. You keep smiling as you mop up the mess. Imagine if one woman told you, "Good job! I watched you calmly deal with the crisis moment and you really have a way with people."

Wouldn't you treasure her words?

Kind words are as sweet as cool water to parched lips--and they cost us nothing

If we put on eyes to see and mentally walk in someone else's shoes we'll know what they need to hear.  

The big surprise is that we get back what we give out. If by our words and actions we give out love and kindness, that's what we'll receive in return. It's never too late to begin, even if it feels forced at the beginning. 

This is not new theory. Solomon and the Apostle Paul wrote: 

Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word lifts us up . . . Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.

                Proverbs 12:25 (The Message) and Ephesians 4:29  NIV

This is hardest to maintain within our marriages and families, because both are 24/7 and we have no place to hide.

When we blow it--and we will--we lay our failures at the cross of Jesus and begin again.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.    Romans 8:1  ESV

How can we change from within? Where do we start?

And exactly how does that work? I know no better answer than this:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.    2 Corinthians 5:17   ESV

When we trust in Jesus, we have a Helper who walks with us through every day and gives us strength to become the individuals who brighten the world we live in. Because our words lift up the people around us.

And isn't that who we want to be?

Blessings from one who learned to mind her mindset,

Lenore 


September 27, 2021

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October 31, 2013

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