On our Talk show this week with Vange we learned the importance of being your child’s “Champion”, or what I refer to as their biggest “cheerleader”. These beautiful words of wisdom are the foundation of a good relationship between members of a family. Looking into their eyes, smiling, and speaking words of life into their heart is the first step to healing any brokenness.
Every time I gave birth to one of my children, I told myself that I gave birth to my friend. Children can be the greatest friends for life. When Megan was born over 16 years ago I showed her to her older sister, Molly and told her, “Molly, this is your best friend.” She replied, “My friend?” She kissed her head and smiled as I assured her, “Yes!” She was only 16 months old and could barely talk but the concept of friend stuck with her her whole life. Molly and Megan remain best friends to this day.
Over the years they have been inseparable for the most part. Molly is nearly 18 years old and it is only just recently that they are learning to have time apart.
Here is the hard part. Getting real is a bit difficult because it feels better to brush this under the rug and save this story to share at a later time in life when my boys are all grown. I tried this same technique with the boys and it never worked. I had to put fires out between them all day long. I yearned for a time when they could all just get along. They would fight over the silliest things. Miles, who is 18 and living on his own, would rather live away from his brothers that continually bother him and each other.
I see other families where the boys are great friends. You start to wonder if it is your fault, a personality conflict, or if could be influential. I told them from little on that they were best friends, too. Why did it not work? I had to tell them each day to be kind to each other or to stop bothering one another. I had many times cried because I tried everything in my power to bring permanent peace between them. I had creative ways of disciplining them over the years, taking privileges away, using the Mom Bucks, and when they were younger I could control them much easier. Some things actually would work for a period of time. Now that they are teens, it is a bit harder. They are louder, and I am much smaller.
They are great children. I love each of them so much. When you have one of them alone, you would think they are the nicest most amiable person. They just have this competitive spirit with each other. I have given them analogies on how they will be more successful if they teamed up and played on the same side of the team rather than against each other. In more recent years it has just been here and there, not constantly. I mostly have this issue when I am homeschooling the boys together. One will cut down the other for messing up on a word or not writing as much as he did. It is just ridiculous little things that spring up and it drives me crazy. I NEVER allow it. I crack down on it every day and it stops every day, but it comes up the next day. It seemed there was no real fix to the problem. Most days I was just waving the white flag of surrender in the trenches of an all out war against the peace of our home.
Their is hope. I finally had a breakthrough this week! I am so thankful because it was the most beautiful day of my life. One thing I have learned since being around the Above Ruby families an living a part of their community is that they LOVE speeches. At every Shabbat, every birthday, every party, every wedding, and the holidays, there are loads of LIFE GIVING speeches. Even the smallest of children will get up at a birthday and say something so beautiful about another person.
This is something I am just learning. We did not grow up with this lovely practice nor did we ever even consider doing it in our home. We had our first Shabbat at the Campbell’s home and were shocked when we were asked to these very intimate speeches to our entire family. It seems a private thing in our American culture and we HOLD BACK words that we could GIVE abundantly to one another. It is easier to give a criticism or a put down. As a mother I have always felt so compelled to give out words of affirmation to each person in the home but because I never helped them learn this practice, we never practiced it as a family.
One person giving out praise is great, but it takes an entire family to make it truly beautiful.
After Vange spoke, I took some of her words of life into my heart and my ears heard the words differently. I never figured it out until this moment. I did not see the practice of speeches as being the cure, but it was!
A couple days started the same as always as I fixed a cup of tea and sat at the meal table with the boys with our eyes on the books. Michael was telling Junior he did not read the entire page he was supposed to. Junior said he did. The bickering started back up again. I said “Stop bickering!” It stopped for a second and then it started back up again. This time I told them they would be grounded because they started up again.
The tears started on Junior. He had plans. I put my hands over my ears and started singing loudly so that I could not hear them try to justify themselves to me. I told them it is my JOB to keep peace and by the Grace of God, I will keep peace if I have to sing over them. They sat in silence wondering when they will be off grounding. I said, “When you LOVE one another! When you speak Kindly to one another!” This time I told them, “Pray. Ask Jesus how you have been treating your precious brother over the years and if it has been in a loving way.” They sat quiet with thought.
After about 30 minutes they each had prayed, written a beautiful letter to each other at my request. The letters were beautiful. I did not tell them what to say but asked them to write it from their heart. Wow. God is so merciful. The silence broke with hugs and repentance and words of Pure LIFE!
I did not want it to stop there. We had a moment with all of us sitting in the girls bedroom where we all gave each other a speech. We said specific things to each person that we appreciate about them and how much they really mean to us. There were some apologies that were said to certain people that needed to know that words that were said or actions from the past were wanting to be made right.
It was so precious. So beautiful. The spirit of Jesus was glowing in the walls of the room where we stood speaking LIFE.
Everyone should try this. It might feel strange at first, but you could be the start of a revolution of speaking LIFE over people in your home and then into your community. It has to start somewhere. Be the first.