There was a time when I didn’t want to listen to my mom. I probably rolled my eyes (behind her back!) and I know I tuned her out when she would offer little nuggets of wisdom.
And then I had kids.
And she mysteriously became one of the wisest women I knew.
Her nuggets became priceless and I find myself camping out on them often in this crazy mixed-up world in which we are raising our kids and nurturing our marriages.
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. I find myself spouting this to my teenagers almost daily. And to my preschoolers. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up.” Words are powerful and there is always a better way to say something if thought and compassion are engaged. My 17 year old son gave up saying unkind things to his younger brother for Lent this year… of his own accord, I might add. It changed the entire tone of their discourse in 40 days. And though things aren’t perfect between them and there are still sharp words exchanged occasionally, I see him pausing more often, pondering whether that thing on the tip of his tongue is worth saying.
Don’t let your anger fester; write it down, put it in a drawer, and leave it there. When the anger has passed, throw it away. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve employed this strategy in my 45 years. And it’s probably saved a job or two, a friendship or two, and spared other close relationships. People will say things. People will hurt you. You will be angered and disappointed. I often go back to Ephesians 4 and think of my mom’s advice. It’s a great way to keep the sun from going down on your anger. And having a night of relative peace.
And this, too, shall pass. When we’re in the midst of difficult times, it seems like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. My grandmother used to share this with me, too, and her father with her, so this one’s been passed down in my family for generations. I used to think “yeah, right!” , so immersed was I in whatever was going on. I used to think she was minimizing my troubles, but as I’ve gotten older I realize these are words of encouragment. Life goes on. Life is often hard. But if you look back on tough times that seemed like they were going to last forever, they’ve somehow melted into the past. God never promised us a trouble-free life! But as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:17 that our troubles are momentary. And meant to prepare us for an “eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
Treat others the way you want to be treated. Heartfelt confession: I did not treat my first husband like I wanted him to treat me. Although this was just one of a multitude of problems we faced, I own this one wholeheartedly, acknowledging that it contributed to the downfall of our marriage. I’ve learned from my mistake and God saw fit to give me a second chance at love and marriage. And though I have to remind myself to be “humble, gentle, and patient” [Ephesians 4:2] I see the value in treating my husband with the respect and gentleness I want from him.
And just a tidbit about my mom… she’s raised four kids and been happily married to my father for 52 years. If that’s not a fine example, I don’t know what is. Thanks, Mom.
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