Before the end of 2015 my husband and I noticed something about ourselves that was both upsetting to realise and humbling to admit. Amid the busyness of everyday life, we had forgotten how to speak kindly to each other and to our children. I first noticed it when we were both helping to get our two ready for school and nursery and ourselves for our work day; I was in the kitchen ironing a shirt and my husband was telling our distracted six year old to put her tights on, an instruction, which by now was basically yelled rather than given. I flinched at the loudness of my husband’s booming voice and immediate knew I didn’t approved of that tone. ..I hate shouting. So how had this problem come to sit in our house? Ironically a few minutes later the tables were turned and I was shouting angrily at my children to both stop messing with the fireplace and to locate their shoes. Didn’t they know we were running LATE? ??
As we walked out of our house that morning I realised two things; we were all angry and we were all unhappy. It was a terrible lesson in how not to start your day.
That night I came home remorseful about our awful start to the day and tried my best to make it up to my little family. After the kids went to bed, my husband and I finally sat down and addressed the elephant in the room. We had to admit it to each other and to God. We had turned into angry people, yelling parents and frankly not nice; individuals. We repented and asked God to help us and to show us where we needed to improve.
The next day and in fact that whole week our days were a little similar but less intense but slowly God began to show both of us areas that needed to change.
As we listened to the holy spirit we realised that kindness was missing massively in our dealing with everyday life. We just wanted things done and quickly, and didn’t always take care of people involved along the way. And sadly, God showed us first hand how this was creating a negative impact on the children. And how a lot of the things we bribed, begged and coxed them to do could all simply be solved by one ingredient; Kindness.
And so on the first of January 2016, we felt led to start our days in our house with kindness. What followed both shocked and amazed us.
Before this, we’d practised memory verses with our children at bedtime. On this occasion though, we felt God leading us to a specific verse that we were to write on our hearts as a family and use as a basis of our new season.
In Proverbs 16:24 it says: “kind words are a honeycomb; sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. ”
Because our issues were speaking to the kids unkindly mostly when we were stressed and running late, we found this verse really helpful in highlighting the importance of reversing this in our house. We wanted our words to be sweet to the soul and to bring healing, not stress.
We felt led to do two main things:
1. Wake up half an hour earlier and begin our day with 5 minutes of praising God (good word from Ben Jeffrey when he spoke here)- therefore beginning our day with gratitude followed by reading the bible together as husband and wife.
2. Ensuring that every word that left our lips towards children and each other was uplifting.
Now, I have to let you in on two things; our days start early in our house anyway. The kids generally push the doors of our bedroom open between 6:30 and seven, and generally act as our alarm clock. The other thing is, I’m so NOT a morning person. Honestly. I am a complete grump. So when I’m woken up, I’m cranky, irritated and irritable. So to wake up earlier was probably not going to go down very well with me.
But Jesus is so kind to us, it says in Matt 11:28 that his “yoke is easy and (his) burden light). So when we woke up half an hour earlier, we would stay in bed and do our devotion from there. I could handle that. That was better. Easier. And on the first day we tried it the children woke up as they generally did but this time, when they barged into our room, mummy and daddy were already awake, reading the Bible and in a better mood. So they crawled into bed with us and snuggled into us as we took turns going through the HTB One Year Bible and devotional.
And that first day, as we made our way down stairs as we always did, something small had changed. And it was lovely. I noticed that I was genuinely smiling as i made my way to breakfast. And I was encouraged and optimistic about our ‘month of kindness. But the following few days, in fact the first three weeks, things actually got worse in our house. It seemed that all our efforts to try and be kind were just not working. I felt more frustrated and angrier than ever. My husband too. It was terrible. We’d do well for a few days and then fall off the wagon for a few more. It was like we’d invited anger into our home by deciding to be kind. The first few weeks were just marked with mistakes and constant sorrys often spoken remorsefully after failing to speak kindly. And we’d hug and start again. We considered giving up. But we felt supernaturally pressed to carry on.
And then on day 21, (it takes 21 days to form a habit, scientists say) as I stood in the kitchen washing the dishes my daughter walked in and began to star jump and shout as she often does and I wasn’t paying that much attention to her until I realised what she was shouting. ..
She was saying “I’m powerful, I’m wonderful, I’m smart, I’m beautiful, I’m a good sister. ..I’m a good friend. ..” and she went on like that for over ten minutes declaring positive words over herself. It was remarkable! As I stood there, where I’d just been feeling like we were failing this assignment, tears flowed freely down my face as I realised what God means in the verse when He says that “kind words. ..are healing to the bones”…
What a beautiful illustration of why we had to keep doing this!
So the few days after that anger and all negative words began to lessen in our speech and our home.
I’m not saying we’re there yet at all. .I actually wasn’t going to share this as today was a major fail from start to finish. ..we’re still learning. But as I got ready to deactivate my social media accounts for lent, I felt led to share this for someone who perhaps is on the same journey as us and might be wondering what to give up or take up for lent. And to genuinely encourage you; why not start with kindness?
Below is a powerful video about the power of kind words…I love it! #KindnessGoals