Years ago I wrote a post about setting guards "at my mouth, to keep watch at the door of my lips." (Psalm 141:3) Those two, guarding my face and my voice, have helped me lots, but I still need all the more help I can get. So I'm so glad that those two guards have made a new friend to stand watch with them at that weak and vulnerable place in me. Introducing "Closely."
This has been such a gift to bring into our home! I'm trying to speak to our kids only while I am near to them. It means I have to move around often, move to them, lower myself to see into their eyes. And sometimes it means asking for them to come near me. Usually there's enough time for this movement to give me a chance to breathe deep and pray quick and then looking into their eyes, I melt with love for them again. Being close, I can communicate to them once again, ever so clearly, that " what Mama is asking of you, I'm asking/ telling because I love you..." Being close them, I can end each request or instruction or correction that I give them with a lovey snuggle or a pat on the head or a wink and a kiss or a tickle.
I've also asked our kids to speak closely with each other and with me too. Someday I'll get it up on the fridge, that our family is to speak Kindly, Truthfully, and Closely. I've told them, "instead of yelling a request down the hall to me, kiddos, please come to me if you have something to ask Mama. If you can see that I'm talking with someone else or doing something else, you'll have to wait a minute. As soon as you see my eyes and I say "Yes, love, what is it?..." then we're ready to talk and I'll be so glad to hear from you."
My own heart tension is so much lighter when we're working together like this. It will take time for this to become the normal pattern of our home, our family, but it's worth working toward. And I know it won't always work... there will be times when I have to holler out something to them, and I'll need them to listen then too. But for the normal pattern of our communication to be face to face, eye to eye, this helps my heart so much! And as Rachel Jankovic says so perfectly (in the superb Loving the Little Years) "It is no abstract thing, the state of my heart is the state of my home."
A few months ago I remember overhearing a quarrel across the house and yelling from the kitchen, where my hands were deep in dough, something about.... please stop, c'mon guys, let's be kind.... and I remember thinking, "When I speak like this, I'm totally training my kids to not pay attention to me, to the words that I say." Oh God, help me not to do that!
Speaking closely as a default rule of communication has brought peace to my own heart, has helped me communicate more love and has helped my kids to pay better attention to me. I am so grateful the Lord for such a guard to stand watch at my lips..... that instead of toxic complaints or nagging or background babble to be completely tuned out, my lips could more easily flow with true and life-giving words of grace and strength and thanks and praise.
Perhaps this guard has already been a constant in your home or perhaps this little introduction might encourage you to invite "Closely" over to your place too? If so, I hope it is a helpful guard at the door of your lips too, dear friends....
with much love,
to Christ's glory,