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.
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.
[Tweet “Just as we work to choose the perfect gift to give, may our words be perfect for every occasion.”]
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?
[Tweet “Let our conversations be the door to grace and truth.”]
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,
Susan at #DanceWithJesus
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Mary, I am so guilty of giving unsolicited advice to my adult children! Thanks for this reminder to think before I speak and only say words full of grace.
I am guilty as well and I am preaching to myself throughout this post. May we all seek to speak in love and grace every time we engage in a conversation. Thank you for being here Constance. Blessings!
Encouragement for my mama ears. It’s soooo easy to chime right in. Gah! I’ve been working on listening better as well. Love your gentle reminder today, Mary. Visiting via #DancewithJesus.
Thanks, Kristi! This momma right here always need this reminder right before I have conversations with my son. I also need to lift up a quick prayer that I am listening well and giving advice only when asked for. I’m so glad to have you here today. Hope your weekend is blessed.
Words can be VERY powerful, especially for impressionable young minds. It can be tough to bite our tongues sometimes.
You speak the truth! I am learning that our words just don’t affect impressionable young minds but adults as well. Words are powerful and we make choices every time we speak or write to build others up or tear them down. Thank you for being here.
Hi Mary! I am always regretting what I say in groups. I think I’ve figured out that I’m a bit of an introvert and when I am ‘on the spot’ I get flustered. Yikes…
Dealing with my daughter and son, now that they are grown-ups can be challenging. They have made decisions that my husband and I don’t love, but it’s usually my husband who will open his mouth (and usually for his foot!). It’s hard to back off, and I agree it’s a good thing that our kids mature slowly. ..so do I!!
Good to see you 🙂
Hi Ceil! I am very much an introvert like you and group settings with people I don’t know very well don’t always go well. When it comes to my own sons, I work hard at praying first before speaking and then hope that I know if I am supposed to just listen or add words of wisdom. God knew what He was doing when He had children grow up slowly so we as parents could do the same. Praying your weekend is blessed.
Oh how many times have I done this?!! I’d hate to have to count them. I love your thought that our conversations should be the door to grace and truth. I’ve had to learn to pray for words and opportunity and allow God to open those doors. Then…and only then…are my words suitable to lay on someone else! 🙂
There is lots of praying going on before I engage in certain conversations. God has taught me to slow down and look to Him first for the right words. I am definitely a work in progress because I mess up more than I would like to admit. Thanks for being here! Love you!
Mary, so much wisdom in this post to learn. I am finding it is better to wait until I am asked for my opinion than to offer it too quickly. To listen more & speak less. And may we pray for wisdom ad understanding as we listen to others for only God truly knows the heart. Always wonderful to read your words, Mary!
Thank you Joanne! I find I’m am much better at waiting before I speak with friends or in other social situations but with my own sons-oh my! I am still learning that being their mom does not give me the right to always dispense advice. God is working on me but I imagine this process will continue for many years. I am always glad to see you here Joanne! I am praying your weekend is blessed.
Hi Mary, maybe at another instance I too have been there.
May Grant us the wisdom to say what we need say and at the appropriate time.
PS I have learnt a thing or too just by reading through the comments. Wonderful isn’t it?
God bless friend.
Thank you for your prayer. I am joining you in prayer that we all seek God first and His wisdom before we choose to speak. I am glad to hear that the comments helped you too. Blessings on the rest of your week.
Oh, this is something I’m still learning! I definitely don’t have the gift of spoken words. I get them wrong all the time. Really trying to get it right with my kids, but so hard… Thanks for this great encouragement!
It is so hard! I am a work in progress every single day and my sons are grown. I am thanking God for the gift of grace and His willingness to rescue me when I mess up. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this too.
Mary, words as sweet as honey and not bitter. It seems to me we both have been thinking a lot about the power of our words. I too want them to open the door to grace and truth. Let’s do it together friend!
It’s always easier to do it together, isn’t it? Our world is full of words and many of the ones I read and hear are not ones that make me proud. I am praying we all work toward using words for building into others rather than tearing them down.
Oh, I’ve been there too, my friend! I’ve been learning to pause when my kids (or anyone) comes to me with tales of woe or exasperation and ask, “Would you like advice or just someone to vent to?” The outcome is always so much better when the expectations are laid out from the beginning!
I agree when we lay out the expectations before speaking the results can be better. For some reason, I do that better with others than with my own sons. Being a mom, I’m in charge right??? Not so much but I do try to be in charge way too often. Thank you for stopping by today and for your beautiful post about your trip with the students for outdoor school. Blessings to you!
Sometimes I struggle for the right words, especially if the conversation is challenging and I’m trying to let someone know how I am feeling. Often the written word can be easier when I’m trying to explain my feelings. However, by slowing down and trying not to let my emotions get the better of me, conversations are healthy and positive. Prayer sure helps, to!
I am much better with the written word because I allow myself the time needed to properly think it through before speaking or reacting. I do try to say a quick prayer before any conversations with my sons as well as conversations with others that might be difficult. I am so glad you joined me today and I am praying that you continue to recover. Hugs!
Mary, this rings true for me although I would rather it did not! I know of a young mother teaching her 4 year old about just this. She wrote the word “WORD” on a piece of cardboard. Then she gave she sweet son a tube of toothpaste and asked him to trace the word in the paste. He did most obediently. When done, his mom said, “Now, please put all the toothpaste back into the tube.” He looked from his tracing to his mother and back again before saying, “But Mom…I can’t do that!” From there, M proceeded to talk to her little boy about how words cannot be put back into our mouths once they are out. I have never forgotten that wonderful lesson to a 4 year old. It is still good for me today!
Glad you are my neighbor tonight at Jennifer’s.
I love the story of the toothpaste and the word “word”. That is one that a child would never forget and a beautiful illustration of how powerful our words can be. Thank you for sharing that. I am with you Linda when you say that you wish you did not have any problems with speaking with others in grace. I continue to learn this lesson and am blessed that God is patient with me. I’m so glad you were here today so I could learn from you and your story.
Mary, your post today really hits home. As a mother of a 35 year-old married daughter, and a 23 year-old son who just started his first job today after graduating from FSU, I have had many opportunities to experience the stumbling of saying too much when all they wanted was to be heard. I pray every day for the Holy Spirit to flow through me filling me with His Presence and the fruit of His Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, self control–and to wash away all my unbelief, pride, idolatry, prayerlessness, and legalism. He so graciously hears my prayers as I lean on His Everlasting Arms…and choose not to speak so much when my dear children only want their Mom to listen…many blessings to you and your sweet family!
Thank you for your sweet words! I love that we are in this together since I know being a parent of children at any age has its challenges. I am blessed with two sons who are always willing to extend grace when I mess up and who forgive me when needed. May we all pray first before speaking and learn to listen well as our children come to us in conversation. Blessings to you!
I read Abby’s words at “Fearfully Made Mom” and then I read your post…both had to do with the power of our words. I guess you could say that God has my attention. Words are to be a gift used to uplift and edify others, but I know that my words have not always done that. As a mom, even of grown children, I often default to advise or preach mode. I am really trying to ask and listen more and talk less and your post is just further confirmation that I need to pause and pray before I speak so that my words build up instead of tear down. Thanks for such an honest post!!
Right there with you…
Can I just say, Bev that learning how to speak with our adult children as well as when not to speak is so hard. I continue to make mistakes and yesterday was a prime example of that. The beauty in this process is being able to extend grace and speak with love at all times. I also send up a quick prayer and just ask God to give me the words I need for that conversation. So glad to have you here on this journey of motherhood. Your friendship means so much to me. Can’t wait to hug you at Allume. Blessings!
I’m afraid I learned form my husband that some of my words recently, though intended to help, were tearing down not building up. These words were just I needed for correction and encouragement today, thank you!
Love form a #RaRaLinkUp sister!
I was definitely preaching to myself today when writing this post. Even with the big reminders that God gave me I totally blew it this morning with my own son. Trust me when I say this is a lifelong process for me. Thank goodness for God’s grace as well as my son’s. Thank you for being here, Bethany!
It’s not been easy to keep my mouth shut when I so wanted to give advice, especially to my adult children. I am finding out though that my kids have grown into beautiful, well-adjusted, God-fearing adults and that there is a time when the words I give are welcome and when they are not. I don’t get it perfect every time, but I’m learning how to allow grace and love to flow from my mouth, to both my children and those around me.
Isn’t knowing that our children have turned out okay such a gift to us as parents? Even when we still long to give them advice and fix things for our adult children, we can enjoy that God has taken all the moments – good and bad – and turned them into remarkable treasures. I appreciate your honesty here as a parent because I know that I am going to be learning how to engage well in conversation the rest of my life. Hugs and love friend.
Mary, I have a great distance to go when it comes to listening more than speaking! Lately, though, I have begun to realize that at least one of my daughters needs me to listen while she processes much more than she needs me to share my feelings about everything she’s saying. I want my words to be gifts of grace, and knowing when to be quiet is such a big part of that! Thank you for the encouragement to work hard at this, because it does make such a difference!
Your sweet words have really blessed me today. Your encouragement is affirming and reminds me that letting God teach me can in turn be helpful to others. Listening is the hardest part of parenting for me because I love to fix things as well as give advice. I am praying we all continue to work hard to make our words matter in every conversation and to be able to listen well when that is all that is needed.
Hello, Mary! Your words on words are some I always need to hear. “Speak less” was one of my new year’s “guiding goals,” but I have fallen woefully short. I love that you write, “Words are a gift. We can choose to give and receive them with grace or just the opposite.” As today is the first day of school for my tween and teen daughters, I will ask God to help me give grace today when they get home…no matter what kind of day they’ve had! 😉 Blessings…stopping by from the #RaRaLinkup!
I will pray that your daughters’ first day of school went well. I have found that as much as I think I am qualified to dispense advice at all times, I really am not. God teaches me over and over to pause my words and listen instead. This is a life lesson that seems to be one that I have not fully grasped yet. So glad you stopped by and joined in the conversation.
I was just reading in Proverbs about using our tongues for good instead of harm. The Bible is chalk full of wisdom about using our tongues. I love how you used the Bible within the context of motherhood. This was a convicting message to say the least, and I’m glad I was able to be your neighbor for #TestimonyTuesday.
Thank you for your affirming words of encouragement. The Bible does contain many truths about how to use our words wisely. As an adult I am still learning this lesson and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I love having you here and appreciate you for joining in the conversation. Have a blessed week.
Well, I’m soaking this all up, Mary. As a mom of two mamas both in their mid-30s, I’ve found it too easy to dispense advice along the way. Yeah, I’m sure some was appreciated. But many times I should have just kept my big mouth shut.
And opened my ears and heart a whole lot wider.
Our life experience / educational degrees / careers don’t make us geniuses and not everyone needs to hear our opinions.
As I close my mouth and simply offer the gift of reflective listening, I realize how few answers I really do have. And how many He does.
And I realize once again how wise He’s shaped my little girls to be.
You speak such truth and share wisdom from your life experiences. You are a little ahead of me in this parenting journey and I know that I am continuing to learn how to do this everyday. Sounds like you are too. I love how you say that all of our degrees and even life experience still don’t make us experts. God is the expert and we need to defer to Him every time. Peace friend!