This is Canon Victoria’s letter in our weekly Parish News email. To sign up for our newsletter, please visit: Constant Contact. To see the full weekly Parish News email from Jan 27th, please visit: http://conta.cc/2kbr6pH
My mother had a series of saying when I was a child, most of which I have found apt and wise, with one exception. “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you.” I know what she meant to mean. She meant to say, “Let go of the mean words of other children called out as bullying and don’t let them affect you.” In a similar way, I asked my children, “Who gave them power over you?” Words can wound decades after the cut from the lip is forgotten. It is people closest too us whose words can wound us worse. At the end of her life, when she was not sure of our names, my mother remembered taunts said to her as a child.
Observant Jewish parents to this day have the Sabbath custom of blessing their children. I do not directly observe that custom: but because of it, I try and praise my children when they do something good unasked. Think about how often in business or in our families, the opening line, “I need to talk to you,” raises anxiety. It is because we expect criticism, not positive feedback.
St. Paul says to his church members in Philippi, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable…think on these things. That is actually harder than it sounds. We often find it easier to see what is wrong, than what is right. Taking time to name the good in a person can be the word that God uses to nudge him or others toward goodness. Equally, a diet of negative words can limit or destroy the future of one who hears them. Jesus says that we will have to account for every idle word we speak before the Throne of God. (Matthew 12:36) I had to read that about five times before I noticed the warning. I am more mindful since of what I say, and how I say it.