On any given day our words can go south quickly. We hurry up and talk and give little thought to the words that are flying out of our mouths. We feel the need to share at any cost and the ramifications can be devastating.

We are taught at a young age that if we can’t say anything nice, we shouldn’t say anything at all. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we change that saying into talking and giving advice in all situations. We might believe we have life experience on our side to give weight to this or we might just know more than the other person, so it is justified. Whatever the reason, we back ourselves into corners more often than we care to admit.

yeah I went there

In a matter of minutes, I said more than was needed. I gave advice because that’s what moms do, right? and I turned a conversation into one big hot mess by not listening. Yeah, I went there, without even pausing and allowed myself to lead a conversation that wasn’t mine to lead. Moms seem to have the corner on making sure all conversations end up with some advice, but this is not the corner that we should be seeking in every conversation with our children.

There is a learning curve that all parents experience and it is a blessing that our children gradually become adults because each stage adds to this curve. I am learning that as I grow as a parent with sons who are now adults, I must keep pace in understanding how to best listen and speak to my sons. I would like to think that eventually we master the art of conversation and learn when to give or not give advice, but it is becoming clear this is a lifelong process.

God’s Word is filled with wisdom and advice and when seeking His truth in the matter of how to speak in love and when to instruct my sons, I found this nugget from Ephesians.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Words are a gift. We can choose to give and receive them with grace or just the opposite. We are asked in Ephesians to make a choice to build up others with our words because this is how the gift of words was meant to be shared.

Ephesians also teaches that the words should fit the occasion. We all work hard to choose the perfect gifts for those we love because we enjoy seeing the looks on their faces when it is just right for them. I challenge myself and others to consider working this hard when we speak with our children or others. Are we choosing the perfect words that fit the occasion for that conversation? Are our words the perfect gift?

We also read that our words may be a gift of grace to others. Many gifts come wrapped beautifully and we can’t wait to open them to see what is inside. But does the inside match the outside? Do our words come wrapped with perfection only to find out they were lacking the grace and love to build into others?

Today, as a mom and one who desires to be loving and gracious, I am working on speaking in love, listening well and sharing advice only when it is asked for. I am choosing the perfect gift of words each and every conversation, even if that means no words are needed at all. I am seeking to listen first, understand and then speak.

How do you find the gift of words to fit the occasion? What stumbling blocks have you experienced along the way?

In grace and peace,

Mary

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