The words were out of my mouth- without having any idea of the hurt that they would cause.
It was a painting.
A painting that covered the entire inside wall of our college dorm.
I didn’t like it. It was a little too frilly. Not the right colors. Maybe old-fashioned. And in my opinion poorly done. Never mind that it took someone hours and hours to paint. Never mind that it was detailed and intricate. Never mind that it had a Bible verse written on it. I didn’t like it.
Everyone around me knew my feelings on the matter, and seemingly agreed with my repugnance.
I was clueless to the fact that one of my dear friends- who sat listening as I ranted and raved over this “hideous” painting- was the one that had taken gobs of her precious time and had carefully and lovingly designed it.
I still feel the pain in my gut when I remember how kindly she explained to me that it was her painting.
For, in that instant, I knew that my words had completely crushed her.
I floundered and fumbled and did my best to apologize. Yet, no matter how much I tried to re-word what had spilled out of my mouth- the damage had already been done.
I learned a hard, hard lesson that day.
It’s “easy” to tear down, criticize, and discourage… even unintentionally.
It’s much harder to encourage, for once the damage has been done, it takes ten times more kindness, love, grace, and work to build back up.
I see this in my kids’ lives as well. A hasty word, a thoughtless remark, and their little spirits are ripped up and left in a heap on the floor. Instead of shining Christ’s light on them, and speaking strength into their hearts, I all too often pluck them out and knock them down… and then feel helpless to adhere them beautifully back together.
Thankfully, God is all about grace and building up! And He is transforming me to parent with grace that encourages.
We saw last week how we must be continually, intentionally instructing our children’s hearts and minds… and there are always plenty of opportunities for correcting and disciplining (which we will hopefully get to soon)… but let’s not miss this important step in parenting with grace and truth… ENCOURAGING our children!
I’m not talking about flattery or cajoling, insincere or excessive praise.
I’m talking about inspiring courage in their hearts.
Strengthening them with our words (and actions too).
Building their often wayward souls up, so that when someone else tries to pluck them out and they’re about to topple to the ground, they will instead remember truth and be strengthened.
And that’s just it, our words MUST be filled with TRUTH!!! If our “encouragement” is full of falsehoods, it’s not building up at all, it’s giving them courage in all the wrong things.
So, when our daughter comes frolicking in, proudly gifting us with the half-dead flower that is torn in two, we don’t say, “Wow! That is the most beautiful flower I’ve ever seen. You are such a great flower picker.” :) We say, “Wow! I appreciate how thoughtful and kind God is making you. Thank you for the flower.”
For their courage needs to be grounded in Christ.
Whether their little hearts have turned to Him yet or not, we can encourage them to live lives worthy of God, for He IS calling them into His kingdom!
“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” ~1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
So, we encourage because we don’t want them to be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” ~Hebrews 3:12-13
And because we want to encourage them on toward love and good deeds.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” ~Hebrews 10:24-25
We build strength into their hearts as we follow the lead of our Savior.
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” ~2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Always pointing to the hope that He provides in His Word.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” ~Romans 15:4
Maybe it’s saying…
“I love how God is helping you speak with kindness and gentleness.”
“I noticed that you are doing to others what you would have them do to you. Way to go!”
“You can do it! God will give you the courage to say you are sorry.”
“I’m thanking God for how He’s been giving you a cheerful heart.”
“That was honoring to God when you showed self-control to your sister.”
“Let’s put our ‘shining armor of right living‘ on!”
“I noticed how patient you were while doing math today. I can tell God’s been working in your heart.”
“When you are a child of God, you are a prince/princess. I appreciate how you are being like a prince/princess when you obey right away.”
“You worked so hard on that painting. God is helping you to be diligent.”
“Thank you for forgiving, just as Christ forgave you.”
Certainly it’s taking time, energy, and intentionality to build our children up. To shine the light of Christ on them so their roots go down deep, and they grow and they blossom because of the strength and goodness and hope that He provides.
Let’s build up those walls- not be the ones tearing them down and trampling all over them.
Let’s speak courage into their lives,
And allow God to strengthen their hearts.
Every. Single. Day.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:11
Have you found yourself bringing discouragement on your child?
What encouragement have you brought to your children today?
Want to read more?
Parenting With Grace and Truth- Part 1 (What Does it Really Mean to Parent With Grace and Truth?)
Parenting With Grace and Truth- Part 2 (Dear Imperfect Mommy)
Parenting With Grace and Truth- Part 3 (How Do I Pour Out Grace on My Children?)
Parenting With Grace and Truth- Part 4 (Grace That Instructs)
Pouring Out Grace