In light of all of the recent events with the gorilla and gator, I realized how much criticism and negativity is surrounding us. I mean, I don’t mean to sound all preachy, but seriously, “he who cast the first stone” and all. It’s like nowadays with the introduction of social media, people feel the need to have a voice and opinion about everyone else (I’m kind of doing that right now, oops). I myself am very flawed. The saying, “world’s most okayest mom” rings very true for me. Those of you who know me know I was very kid illiterate before having Kennedy. (Like, please don’t hand me your baby because I don’t know what to do with it. “Is this how you old it, oops, I mean her?”) I had never even changed a diaper before having Kennedy, so it’s all a new learning experience for me. But regardless of that, aren’t we all flawed, as parents, friends, workers, spouses? We are so quick to criticize the celebrity who gained weight or the celebrity that is all of a sudden way too skinny in our opinion. We criticize parenting styles, opinions on all sorts of topics, and what’s the point at the end of the day? For those who are quick to criticize, do they think they aren’t flawed? Because if so, I really hope they never befriend me because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like them.
On the parent criticizing note, who for a second hasn’t taken their eyes off of their child? Daniel and I were at the lake, turned around for literally a second and Kennedy darted towards the water and we found her sitting on the edge. It was the scariest experience for us but good reminder to never take our eyes away from her when near water (or wild animals). But these poor families have lost children in freak accidents and we criticize instead of love and encourage. There’s a huge problem with that.
Let’s “break the internet” and choose to speak life. As a words of affirmation person, words impact me. I remember compliments from years ago, but I also remember criticism from just as long ago too. I love the song “speak life” by Toby Mac because it reminds me to speak life to those I’m around. “Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted; watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope, you speak love, you speak…you speak Life”
Do you ever think of a compliment and don’t actually say it out loud? Say it. You may impact someone’s life for years to come. (Like me remembering in 7th grade when I was told I had a beautiful voice, which is definitely not true anymore…at all. But at least I still remember the compliment!)
Encouraging those closest to us is often the hardest. I may be great at encouraging a friend or coworker, but what about the person I’m closest to and often the person I take most things out on. Do I speak life into my husband? (Um, babe, not to be naggy, but can you PLEASE close your drawers all the way?) Do I encourage him and am I his biggest cheerleader? If anyone has your back it should be your spouse, and oftentimes, I am not intentional about doing this for Daniel. When I wanted to quit my job, explore staying home with Kennedy, and then decided to launch a blog and start my own marketing consulting business, it was scary for us both. (Um, you want to do what, honey?) There was a lot of anxiety around that decision to step out in faith to something I felt God was calling me to do. Leave the “safe” place we were in and take a leap of faith. Daniel chose to speak life into me. He supported me, encouraged me, told me I’m a badass and I can do anything (I mean, an encouraging lie is also great sometimes). But he chose to speak life into me instead of let the anxiety of becoming a one-income family for a bit take over. It takes a lot of trust in God, who takes care of us and has a far bigger purpose for us than we could ever think, and it takes trust from your spouse and family to believe in you too. Life is too short to live in the mundane or to waste time being negative. Our pastor, Joby Martin, said recently, “God doesn’t need your ability, He wants your availability.” Maybe you are in a time of your life where you feel insignificant, small, flawed or just not worth much (Thanks a lot People Magazine). Well, we need our spouse, friends, family, Facebook community, etc. to rally around us to tell us the truth, that we are doing a kick-ass job, we each have super awesome and unique gifts, and we are more significant than we know!
It takes confidence and leadership to encourage. Our pastor said, “leaders bring clarity and encouragement.” I want to have that kind of humble confidence to constantly build others up, encourage and speak life. Often we criticize to make ourselves feel better (you’d think we wouldn’t act like we are in middle school anymore, but oh well.) For me, I struggle a lot with the concept of leadership. I want to be a leader and not a follower, I want to lead when other follow. And the concept of leadership nowadays is skewed. We think it has to do with power, but it really has more to do with confidence to love, serve and encourage others. My biggest prayer for Kennedy when I was pregnant was that she would lead when others follow, that she would have a strength and peace from her confidence in who God made her to be. I prayed that even though she be tiny, she be fierce! The point here isn’t our stature (I’m sure she will always be the shortest in her class like I was, sorry Daniel, no volleyball scholarship) but that at times in our lives we all feel small. Small at our job, small at home, just small, insignificant, flawed (the media definitely helps at reminding us of that). But, God wants to remind us that we are anything but. And you know how you can remind yourself of that, Words in scripture of who God says He made you to be, words spoken by your spouse, by your family. But it’s a choice to encourage and build up. Choose to speak life because words matter.