Proverbs 16:24–Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
I’ll admit it..I’m a slacker! 😉 If you know me, you know that’s not entirely true- but with writing, I certainly have been lately. It is almost impossible to find a few minutes here and there to capture my thoughts. (If you’re a parent, you can relate! Your kids just know if you might have found a second to yourself!) After a while, though, I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head, that I just have to let some of them out!
I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I tend to “compartmentalize” my thoughts. It’s probably just a survival skill, but it’s how I operate. For example, if it’s as simple as a “to-do” list for the day, I have to break it down into one thing at a time. If I don’t, I just get overwhelmed and shut down completely. If we are talking about something much more difficult, such as processing the magnitude of Lindsay’s syndrome and what she needs/will need in the future, I have to think day-to-day. (I’ve tried the whole ‘worry about every little thing that might happen in the future’, and it never works out too well.) 🙂
I know that I have said it repeatedly, but I think my biggest frustration with Pitt Hopkins, is how much it affects speech. I think of how frustrating it is to always wonder what Lindsay would say to me in any given situation. Sure, I can tell if she’s happy, upset, or tired. Those are pretty easy to determine. I wonder little things, like does she ever get bored? What was her favorite part of the day? Does she want to play in her room, or would she rather go outside? Simple things, but they’re all a guessing game for me. I would love for her to just be able to tell me about her day. Of course, I ask her all of these things, but I usually just answer for her.
With nonverbal children, or even with typically developing children, we often hear the phrase, “Use your words,” in order to try to get them to verbally express their needs. This is usually in an attempt to steer them away from expressing their frustrations physically, or through fussing or crying. It’s no surprise that in the season of life I find myself, then, that words are so important. Words are powerful. They can lift someone up, or be used as a weapon. While we’ve all heard (and probably used) the old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” it’s simply not true. I can still clearly remember unkind things that were said to me as a child, as if they were yesterday. Most of us probably can. We might even still believe them. We can be given a hundred compliments and one criticism, and what is the one thing we remember?
We work every single day to get Lindsay to imitate sounds, by singing songs, trying to get her to repeat things, and letting her watch little videos. We’re just anxious for one word. Any word. I’ve often even joked about how funny it would be if she said certain words as her first. I can see so much personality in her, and I can’t wait until we can help her let it all out, using either her words or the help of a communication device.
The other night as I was putting Lindsay in her bed, Carter came out of nowhere and asked, “Mom, if you had one wish-what would it be?” I told him that it would probably be that Lindsay could walk. (At the time, I was simply thinking it would be great if she could get in her bed by herself.) He just looked at me and said, “I like her just the way she is.” It was almost as if I had offended him in some way. I told him that I like her just how she is, too, but sometimes it would be nice if she could walk. He said, “Maybe for a little bit, but then I’d want her to go back to the way she is.” He’s only nine, but his words in those few seconds humbled me, and changed my whole day.
A few weeks ago, my boys participated in their first debate with their school’s debate team. When they were handing out awards at the end of the day, one thing really stuck out to me. The lady handing out the awards told the children that greater than winning any award, was the importance of learning how much their words matter. They are learning now that the words they use, and how they use them, mean more than winning any debate. Not long after, Carter told me about a boy asking him if he’d ever said a curse word. He told me that he responded, “No, and I don’t ever PLAN to!” While I’m so thankful he’s still innocent, I hope he will always think about the words he chooses to use.
Lately, words have broken my heart. In this never-ending political season, I’ve seen more hateful words than I care to see for the rest of my life. I think the part that bothers me the most, is that I’ve witnessed so many Christians act as though they have a “license” to use their words to destroy people. It is okay to disagree. I just can’t understand how it is ever okay to belittle, call people names, and question their hearts. It reminds me of my teaching days, when I would have a student that talked nonstop! I remember a time or two, having to remind them that we did not need to hear every single thought that came to their mind!! 😉 I constantly have to remind myself, as well, that words cannot be taken back once they are spoken. One of the few things we can control in this life, is what we allow to come out of our mouths. I think of the argument my boys often like to use to justify their hurt or anger over what the other one has said or done to them. “He made me” say this, or do that, is typically their response when questioned about why they reacted in a certain way. I spend a lot of time revisiting the fact that no one can make them do anything. It is a choice. We always have a choice. After it is all said and done, is the risk of losing a relationship(s) worth a few “angry words?” The same people we may tear down with our words today, might be sitting in the seat next to us at church tomorrow. They may even be sitting at our dinner table.
I ache for my little girl, and so many others like her, to be able to speak any words at all. I’ll even catch myself sometimes having an entire car ride with her, in total silence. Then, I’ll feel guilty that I could have used that time to talk to her. I could have sung to her. I could have prayed over her. I could have used my words to be a blessing.
I will spend every day of the life I am given on this earth, trying to help Lindsay use her words. I believe with ongoing research and advances in technology, this will be possible one way or another. I also want to choose my words well. In Cason’s class last year, they had a motto that stated, “Build each other up; don’t tear each other down.” We have been given a powerful gift, that so many would love to have. Let’s use our words as a blessing.
Until next time…
Ephesians 4:29–Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Matthew 15:18–But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
Proverbs 12:18–There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 15:1–A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Colossians 3:8–But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Proverbs 21:23–Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
Colossians 4:6–Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Proverbs 17:27–Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Proverbs 11:12–Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.
Matthew 7:12–So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.