***I recently was presented this list of 14 Marks of a Wise Woman and I instantly felt overwhelmed. I want to be all these things! To glorify God by being wise and discerning. To honor God in my attitude, the way I speak, and how I react in difficult situations. In this series, I will be exploring each of these 14 Biblical virtues (please also see proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com, which is the source of this list), in order to find ways to apply these principles to my life in practical ways. I hope you will join me!***
If you’re just joining us, here are the previous virtues:
2. Speaks Wisely with Kindness
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
What does this mean?
This virtue is more straightforward, in my opinion, than the previous one (fears God). I think we can all see that the Bible is telling us to speak wisely with kindness from this verse. But, let’s try and split it open a little bit here.
Momma always said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. At least, someone’s momma said that. Mine didn’t, but that’s beside the point. The point here is that we all know it’s important to say nice things. And that if we have something that isn’t nice to say, we probably shouldn’t say it at all. And if we are actively seeking a life where we look more like Christ, we should be trying to curb those thoughts too.
I believe it also speaks to the amount of time our mouths are open. Showing wisdom while speaking usually means that we also know when to speak and when not to. This is a hard pill to swallow if you talk a lot. *raises hand* I’ll be honest, I like the sound of my own voice. Especially in my little family, when compared to the The Hubs, who enjoys listening, and our little guy, who can’t physically talk yet, I tend to take advantage of the empty space. This is actually something I’m making a conscience effort to work on right now. You’ll have to ask The Hubs if I’m succeeding, because it still feels like I talk WAY too much… (please note that I am not saying a lot of talking is bad, but if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s likely that the majority of the things we are saying are centered around ME. And that is the root issue.)
Not only does it say kindness is on her tongue, it says that the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. What does this mean? I know I have a hard time seeing myself as a teacher. And when I used to consider that someone might be watching me and learning from what I do and what I say, I would freak out a little. The process of becoming a mom helped me a bit in this area though, as I KNEW I would be teaching my little one with every action, every word, every emotional display. So in the last year I’ve tried to be purposeful in my actions, knowing that everything is seen (and potentially absorbed as a normal thing, even if it’s bad). My little guy will learn by watching what mom does in tough situations more than what mom says when he does something wrong.
How can I speak wisely with kindness as a Christian?
In Wesley’s commentary on this verse, he says “she is neither sullenly silent, nor full of impertinent talk, but speaks discreetly and piously, as occasion offers. Her speeches are guided by wisdom and grace, and not by inordinate passions. It is constant and customary.” Um, wow. I feel like I should throw my hands up in the air right now! Who can possibly live up to such high standards? Well. Jesus did. And through the Holy Spirit, we can to. And maybe we did terrible yesterday. So what? Today is a new day. And for the gift we’ve been given in Christ, we can at least TRY!
How can we do it? In my opinion, prayer and practice (in that order). I really have no other advice or additional goals for myself here. These are enough. I don’t believe, as in most character related things (heart issues!), that there is an easy or quick way. I think it is patiently living it out in the hard moments. The moments that came yesterday and today, and will come again tomorrow.
How can I speak wisely with kindness as a wife?
Being kind to a complete stranger is easy (usually. This is a generalization…). Taking a meal to a friend once or twice who is sick is easy. Being kind to my husband day in and day out as we live this thing called life is… hard. And it’s not because I don’t love him. In fact, I love him more than any other person on earth. But for some reason he is the one that gets the worst of me. Oh yeah, probably because he make a covenant before God to be with me until he dies. It’s the ‘he’s stuck with me, so I can get away with this’ syndrome. And I think, deep down, most women have this. But that most certainly does not make it right. I find that it’s helpful if I think of my husband as my neighbor. As in, the Bible says a lot of how you should treat your neighbor. You probably know the big one by heart, “love your neighbor as yourself. ” Ring any bells? And if you’re like me, which you probably are because we’re all sinners, it’s easy to love yourself. It’s easy to put yourself first (even if only in your heart – we all do this – it’s our sin nature), but it’s not easy to, day in and day out, love someone as much as you love yourself. There are times I think I love my husband or child more than myself because of how I serve them. But it’s so much more than that. Ted Tripp gave a lovely example of this at one of his parenting conferences. He used the example of when he and his wife enjoy a bowl of ice cream after the kids have gone to bed. He says that sometimes he will pack more ice cream in his bowl than the one for his wife, because he wants more of the ice cream for himself. It sounds silly, but come on – you can relate! I surely can. It’s just our nature to put ourselves first!
So to finish the point of the last paragraph, and hopefully in a way that makes sense, my goal is to treat my husband with the same kindness I would give to the checkout lady at Aldi. I mean, I could be having an absolutely terrible day, and if it’s the last thing I do, I’m determined to make that checkout lady think I’m the happiest girl alive. Because I can suck it up for 5 minutes and make her believe I’m doing okay. And honestly, that small action I take usually makes me better. I am less grouchy leaving the store than when I enter. Why can’t I make the same [small] effort with my husband? So I had a bad day and he just walked through the door. So what? Smile, give him a kiss, tell him I’m glad he’s home, and chances are, my day just got little bit better. (no, I do NOT kiss the checkout lady at Aldi. Just trying to make a point here ;)).
Albert Barnes describes the Law of Kindness in such an eloquent way I think any attempts on my part to rephrase would be a disservice. ” The words which come from the lips of the true wife are as a law giving guidance and instruction to those that hear them; but the law is not proclaimed in its sterner aspects, but as one in which “mercy tempers justice,” and love, the fulfilling of the law, is seen to be the source from which it springs.”
How can I speak wisely with kindness as a mother & keeper of the home?
Although my son is still young, he is learning. And everything I do paints a picture of what life is like for him. And his perspective on the world currently rests in my hands. Right now, it doesn’t seem so scary. But when he’s 20 and facing major life decisions, I can only pray that the foundation my husband and I are laying is rooted firmly in God’s word.
Going back to my point up under ‘what does this mean’ where I talk about living out instruction for my son, a few practical things I’ve been trying to incorporate are talking about God and also praying out loud when it’s just him and I. Before I eat any food, I try to pray out loud so that he understands that it’s important to thank God. It’s actually the cutest thing. When I’m done I open my eyes and he is staring at me, like – what’s up mom? Why is your head bowed and who are you talking to? So I know he is absorbing my actions in some way.
Another practical thing that I’m working on… I don’t like being hit. Especially because I get hives from pressure sometimes. And my little guy has arms that flair like those wacky-waving-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube-men. You know, the ones you see at used car dealerships? Yeah. Not his fault, but boy does it hurt sometimes. My natural inclination is to get upset. To growl. To smack him back. It takes a lot of energy to shake it off and then gentle correct him. He doesn’t get it yet, but he will. Right now I’m teaching ME. Teaching myself to not be angry at him, especially for things that he doesn’t know how to do yet. He has to learn how to live, and he can do that best if he is given a safe and loving environment. Not an environment where the words out of his mom’s mouth are angry, hurtful, and only reproachful. He needs instruction, he needs patience, and he needs kindness. And since I’m not naturally good at that, I’m practicing all the time now.
What about you? Do you speak wisely with kindness? What are some specific ways you hope to improve this about yourself?