I know that we can't shelter our children from heartache and from hard lessons. But...that doesn't make it any easier when they cross the threshold of places created by sin. I am not necessarily referring to anything earth shattering. Thank goodness for that! I am simply thinking on things contrary to the fruit of the Spirit. Have you ever had anyone give you a compliment that you knew was not meant as a compliment?
Here is an example:
You walk into the room with a new outfit on and you hear, "Wow! You almost look good enough to take on a date!" At first you might smile thinking they were complimenting you on your good looks. But then "awareness" sets in and you realize that though they might be saying you looked pretty nice....you didn't look nice enough for them to take anywhere and claim you as their date.
Teenagers and adults get these types of off-handed, cutting remarks. Children, however don't....or shouldn't have to. Sarcasm hasn't really penetrated their minds and hearts yet. Sadly, my trusting and beautiful daughter had a rock thrown through her window of awareness.
I think the reason it upset me so much was that she has the gift of encouragement. She will be your first and loudest cheerleader, your champion, your positive word when you have just done something great....or when you need a lift or kind word. She is sensitive to others' hurts and is genuinely happy for people when they win or succeed at a task or game. So when someone "compliments" her she automatically thinks they are genuine and kind in their remarks. But this time was different. This time she very cheerfully told me of her day and of "the compliment" given to her that caused a certain part of her day to be "good" that is normally not her favorite thing to do. As she recounted the scenario in the car on the way home from school she told me of the "compliment". I did not immediately respond because I was trying to process this statement made by an adult---an adult who should know better. After an awkward silence she said, "Mommy? That wasn't really a compliment after all, was it?"
That hurt. I didn't want to agree with her, but I felt I needed to recognize her understanding of the truth. It led to a great discussion about people who mean to be "cute" or funny, but in the end it is just mean.
As a parent, I am more aware of sin in the world than when I was only responsible for myself. Now that I have been entrusted with this precious gift from God....I am more vigilant of what they hear, see, and experience. There are a lot of things I would do over again, and she's only ten. I am forever grateful that God loves her more than I do and that He knows how imperfect I am. He knows that I have made many mistakes and will make many more. Ultimately He is molding her. I am so thankful that he has the plan and the final product already designed.
No wonder James spent so much time talking about our tongue. Words are powerful enough...but when you add human sin propelling them toward a target......look out! Satan has a very powerful weapon.
That night as my daughters were getting ready for bed, I told my husband about the "compliment". My daughter told me the next day that her Daddy had written a note on the wall-mounted white board in her room after she was asleep. It said, "I love you---Daddy." Someone else may cut her down.....but he loves her and always will.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV)
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 The Message)