THIS WAS THE INNER VOICE I WAS GIVING OUR SON
I have heard that the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. Talk about pressure! And although I think there is a lot of my mess ups that get covered by grace, this saying spurs me to accountability. I can either choose to crumble under the pressure of my immense impact or I can shift and restore as things come up. The way that I react or respond will build up or it will break down. I am not saying that I can control the way my child feels or doesn’t feel, but what I can control is myself, as their mom. I get to either speak life and encouragement and blessing or not. And although I like to think that my motherhood is rainbows and butterflies, the reality is this; It’s not. It is hard, it pushes and pulls, it requires me to shift and to not exasperate. And the other day, the need for a shift was clear: I was breaking down my son.
Judah, our middle son, assumes that he is on “yellow” often. In the preschool classroom, there are three colors that represent the child’s behavior: green, yellow, and red (keep going, slow down, and stop). Our son got in the car after school and was so disappointed in his “yellow” that he mysteriously thought he had. I was so confused why he couldn’t remember why he got a “yellow,” and then after checking his folder, realized he was actually on “green.” He has had this assumption several times in the past, so this time I decided it needed to be addressed.
Before checking his folder, I had spent the whole car ride home in lecture and disappointment. My frustration and irritation was through the roof and when I got home and realized it wasn’t necessary in the first place, it hit me: his inner voice was disappointment.
He stood there in front of me as I looked at his sad eyes and his quivering chin and scooped him onto my lap. I said, “why do you assume or often think you are a bad boy?”
My question hit home for him because it was actually what he believed.
He wasn’t whining or whimpering like before, but crying. His chest against mine, his ear on my shoulder and his legs draped over my legs; there was something new happening. It was as if he had been holding on to something, holding back this real cry. I immediately held him closer, tighter, and rubbed his back up and down and said, “You are not a bad boy. You are a sweet and gentle boy.” And then I felt the Lord drawing us closer. I prayed aloud over Judah, “Jesus, show me how to be a good mom to Judah, show me how to love him, show me how to encourage him, forgive me for my discouraging words, for not seeking you for him. Forgive me for not surrendering my ways for your ways. Show him your love, cover him with your love, draw him close to your heart. Wash over him, cleanse his thoughts about who he is, and who you’ve created him to be. Give him a picture of who you see him as. He is your son, he is our son and we love him.”
And then the prayer quieted. He had stopped crying but his head laid heavy on my shoulder. I could feel his cheek wet with tears and his body was still. So, I continued in my spirit to pray over him, to undo whatever inner voice I personally had given him.
I am responsible to nourish and build up, encourage and affirm. But, the voice he had been hearing from me were not those things. He was discouraged, his inner voice was not reflecting who Jesus made him to be, but instead how I broke him down.
It was a sad reality to be faced with.
It is something I would rather defend and pretend like it will shift on its own. Sometimes, my humanity creeps in and tells me “you’re not very good at this motherhood thing, your poor boy, look at how your screwing this up,” but that is not how I choose to respond. I choose to shift, I choose to listen and respond and sow differently in our son.
What I say, how I listen, if I interrupt, how I respond to my children, matters. My responsibility as a mother is so vast, and I want to take moments like the other day to shape my future motherhood. I hope that what we went through, then, brings life and intimacy between myself and our children. Because as their mother, the condemnation can slip in quick, the shame and the sadness for what was missed or what I should’ve, could’ve, or would’ve done differently will steal the gift that was given in that moment holding my Judah. It was beautiful and heart breaking and revealing and it all underscored my need for Jesus. I need him in my personal life, my marriage, and clearly in my motherhood.
We all mess up, but then what? How do you handle when you recognize your child reflecting something negatively you’ve sowed? I would love some ideas of how to affirm my son as well as my other kids. Please share how you build up a discouraged heart. I look forward to reading some new ideas!