That Time I Spied Ugly in the Mirror
I’ll never forget the day I saw myself in that mirror. Even though over a decade of time has passed since I caught the glimpse, the image is still vivid. And I’m sorry to say it wasn’t a pretty one.
My then six-year-old daughter and her three-year-old brother were playing together in their bedroom. I strolled down the hall to check on the baby, who was due up from his nap soon. As I approached the room where the kids were playing, I heard Mackenzie’s voice pipe up as she expressed to Mitchell her immense displeasure. You see, he wasn’t stacking the plastic blocks in a manner that suited her. As I neared the door I heard her sharply declare, “No, Mitchell. Not that way! Oh, just give it to me! Anybody with a brain knows they go like this, not like that. Can’t you ever do anything right?” Her words, though unkind, weren’t the real issue. What bothered me most was my daughter’s caustic, condescending tone. And I was not going to let her get away with it.
I stepped into the room and with classic mom form—hand on hip, finger pointed, throwing the child’s middle name in for emphasis—I gave it to her. “Mackenzie Leith Ehman! Young lady, I don’t ever want to hear you talk like that to your brother again!”
Without even looking up from her pile of blocks, she quickly and calmly retorted, “Why not, Mama? You talk like that to Daddy all the time.”
It was then that I saw it. The ugly in the mirror.
My kids often serve as a painfully honest mirror when it comes to my attitudes and actions. The offense my daughter had committed that day paled in comparison to the disrespectful way I had treated my husband many times before. I cried and prayed and cried some more. I told my husband what had transpired. I then told my Bible study group, which comprised other moms. Turns out I wasn’t the only mom who had a little mirror in her house. Many of us had seen ourselves vividly reflected through the voices and actions of our offspring. We vowed together to keep our words and tones in check. Of course, we found out this is often easier said than done.
Today’s challenge verse talks about hating what is evil, clinging to what is good, and honoring one another above ourselves. When I talked to my husband in a disrespectful tone, I certainly was not keeping my speech in line with the directives in this verse. And sadly, my bad behavior had served as a poor example for my daughter, who then began to mimic what she saw. I knew something had to change.
It’s been a long time since I spied my ugly self in the mirror that day. I still struggle at times with a sharp tongue, often saying things “in jest” that in reality are unkind. And my kids now reserve the right to call me on the carpet for such behavior. We moms need to remind ourselves that little and not-so-little eyes are watching, and in many cases imitating what they see. What’s in your mirror?
- Mimic an evil-hating, good-clinging, sincerely loving person. Name a person you know who gets a good grade in the subjects spelled out in Romans 12:9–10 (loves sincerely, hates evil, clings to good, shows honor). What is different about him or her—especially when it comes to speech? What do they do and not do that makes them a good example of a person who lives out the instructions in this passage?
- Set a recorder. Pay close attention to your words and tone this week as you interact with your husband or others you are close to. What would you see if you were videotaped and then had to watch a playback of how you speak to them? Would others be able to tell from your encounters that you respect your spouse, boss, coworkers, or customers?
Lesson for the Lips
Ask yourself, “Who could hold me accountable in the area of speaking respectfully?” Choose someone who will be honest with you and cares enough about you to tell you the truth and point you to God. Contact that person to see if he or she is willing to check in with you periodically to inquire how you are doing.
For the married, brave at heart parent only: Ask your children to be honest with you. Question them about what they observe when you speak to your spouse. Is there anything they think you should clean up? What grade would they give you when it comes to how you treat your husband? Tell them you’re trying to obey the Bible by respecting and honoring him, and you just need a little report card from them to know how you are doing and to enable you to make the necessary changes.
Meditate on this verse today to help you in your quest to speak with honor to others: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph. 4:29).
Karen Ehman is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, a New York Times best-selling author, and a writer for Encouragement For Today, an online devotional that reaches over one million women daily. She has written seven nine books including KEEP IT SHUT: What to Say, How to Say It & When to Say Nothing at All and LET. IT. GO: How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith. Married to her college sweetheart, Todd, and the mother of three, she enjoys antique hunting, cheering for the Detroit Tigers, and feeding the many teens who gather around her kitchen island for a taste of Mama Karen's cooking. Connect with her at www.karenehman.com.
Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: February 27, 2017