Every mom knows that pouty look on a child’s face exactly when she’s gone out of her way to have a good time together.
I glanced over at my ten year old son as we walked a new trail together, searching for waterfalls we knew were ahead. His little face was stormy. Never mind I had just driven a long way just to give all of us a happy time together in the wild.
I hadn’t let him carry toys on the trail (what a crime). “Now is the time for sticks and water and just hanging out together,” I told him. “And I don’t want you to lose your toys.”
“I just don’t get it,” he said. “What’s wrong with bringing toys on the trail?”
Because I had already explained, I pulled off the age-old mom saying next. “You don’t have to get it; you just need to obey. Now wipe that sour look off your face because we’re here to have fun.”
Those words may as well have been spoken to the rock he was carrying. But we walked on.
“I sure am glad you’re with us,” I told him.
The falls were roaring ahead and we climbed slowly to the top, panting as we went before pausing for a photo in front of the water. Suddenly, sister’s phone went flying out of her hands and into a tight crevice between rocks and wood.
We stared in distress at the phone just beyond our reach.
“I can get it,” little buddy told her, and in he went, nearly scraping his face on rocks as he slithered down and down before grabbing the phone, handing it up, then being pulled up himself by two people.
“That was amazing!” I told him. “See, we really did need you with us. You were super brave and really helped your sister out.”
That was all it took. The rest of the day I couldn’t keep him from helping out if I tried. If my shoe slipped, he was by my side immediately, holding my hand to make sure I didn’t fall. If I laid down to rest by the river, he snuggled up close to rest with me. There was nothing I could do without his constant presence and care right at my elbow.
“I could help you with all kinds of things,” he said as we kept climbing. “When I get big I’m going to have a lot of gold and I’m going to buy you a million dollar house to live in.”
Here I was, a forty-one year old mother being babied by her ten year old son. I pondered the lesson unfolding before me.
This child was often criticized, scolded, or told to stop. His mischief grated on the nerves of everyone in the family, and he found the oddest moments to screech at the top of his lungs. He shared a room with his big brother and teased his older sister and forgot to brush his teeth.
The sister who was most self-conscious was constantly embarrassed by his lack of social skills and made no effort to hide her feelings.
You get the picture. There was always something for him to be corrected on even though his heart was golden. And I’d often tell the older kids to stop scolding and start encouraging more.
“You’re making it worse,” I told them. “He needs to be encouraged more, and that will help him do better.”
I knew from experience that being surrounded by encouraging friends was a life changer. I had met people like that many years prior and as a result, my heart changed from the inside out.
When you speak good over others, you make them want to do good. It takes no character to talk down on people or even to see their negative traits. But it takes a pure heart of love to see past the bad right into someone’s heart.
Speak God’s heart over people by calling out what He’s wanting to put in.
I’ve often told my children during mess-ups and failures, “This is not who you really are. I see what you’re truly made of.”
I see you. I see you. I see you.
Who doesn’t want to be seen?
Little Buddy’s holding my hand by the end of the day. “Thank you for being such a good mom,” he says.
My heart was full and I kept pondering life the entire ninety minutes home. The lesson resounded once again—we cannot fertilize goodness by harping on the bad. Focus on the good, call out the good, name the good, and tell a person what is good in their character. Celebrate it, and watch the bad diminish as you do so!
Here’s a challenge to compliment at least two people every day!
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (ESV)