At a church we used to attend, I remember one message that resonated with me. I couldn't tell you his five points or anything like that, but he was talking about how overwhelming it can be as Christians to be good people. We're supposed to be great parents, great kids, great friends, give to the needy, read your Bible, pray, work to be more like Christ, etc. etc. etc. How overwhelming! So his advice was this: Focus on ONE thing until it becomes habit then move on to something else. His struggle was his patience. So, he said that his "goal" was to focus on changing his tone when he spoke to his wife and children. There's even a verse about it. "A gentle tone turns away wrath" Proverbs 15:1
That was about 3 years ago. I actually tried it with a difficult person in my life at the time. And amazingly...it worked! I used a gentle tone and it totally disarmed the other person! Lately, it has resurfaced as a theme in my life and wanted to share.
(pardon me while I slip into Communication professor mode here)
Did you know that we are communicating 24/7? There's not ONE second of a day that we aren't communicating. Even when you're sleeping? Yes, you're communicating, "I'm sleeping. Please don't wake me." What's even more amazing is that 95% of our communication is NON-VERBAL. That's right...95%! Imagine a teenage girl with arms crossed, lips pursed, looking down to the ground and saying, "No, I'm fine!" Her non-verbal would say otherwise. Non-verbal is not just body language though. (aha!) It's also "tone." Most sarcasm occurs in just tone alone. I've reminded my children (and husband) numerous times, "It's not what you say, it's how you say it."
Last weekend our pastor said that most people complain that it's hardest to be a Christian at work. But he disagreed. He said the hardest place to be a Christian is in our own homes with our families. Why is that? My theory goes back to the old cliche of "you always hurt the ones you love the most." I guess we all feel like our families will love us unconditionally no matter what, so we can let our guards down, vent, be impatient, lose our tempers, yell, etc.
I've even noticed it in public a lot lately. The other day at Chick-fila, I was in line to get a refill on my sweet tea and a lady behind me was berating her son. Then, just as quick as a whip, she flipped into "sweet lady" mode and changed her tone for the cashier when it was her time to order. It broke my heart. Here she was belittling the most precious person in her life, but felt like she had to be nice to a total stranger. I'm not saying we have to be syrup-y sweet all the time. That's next to impossible and doesn't do anyone any favors. You can still correct your children in a kind but firm manner. It's all about choices. When your significant other says "Honey, can you come here for a second?" We can choose to say "NOT NOW! WHAT DO YOU NEED?!" or we can say, "I can't right now. Can it wait a minute please?"
My friend Anna just wrote a post about finding what's right in front of you. Hopefully today you take time to realize that the people in your life are a gift. Use a gentle tone. And they will do the same back to you. Don't worry, I'm not perfect (that's a whole post in and of itself), so I am on this journey too. I don't know that I will ever perfect that gentle tone; but I'd rather die trying than live with regret.
I'll leave you with a picture of the girls taken with my phone. Just so you don't forget what they look like :D
My three blessings eating ice cream after Reagan's first day of first grade.
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