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When How We Speak is More Important Than What We Speak

My Tone: It gets me in trouble every time


“Mom, I need to talk with you about something tomorrow night, I just want you to be ready,” said my daughter as I was tucking her in. It took everything in me to refrain from playing 20 questions. I desperately wanted to know what I had done, what was on her mind, or worst case, what had broken her heart. But what I heard first was she needed time, which meant I needed time to prepare to hear her heart. So I waited.


For the next 24 hours, “God, please prepare my heart to listen, help me not to react, and prepare me for whatever this may be,” played over and over in my anxious mind. When the time finally came, we went upstairs to talk about her day and read our devotional. Our discussion started out light hearted but a few minutes into it, she asked if I was ready, “Here it comes,” was all I could think.


Before I move on, let me share with you a little back-story. Over the past few months, my 13-year old daughter has developed an issue with food & anxiety. We have teamed up with a great clinic to help both of us develop some strategies and tools to work on this new challenge we are facing together. (Please let me shout from the rooftops, I am so very thankful for professionals!)


As our conversation began, she explained that the morning before, when I was speaking to her about her breakfast choice, my tone and choice of words was hurtful to her. She confessed that, because I was so direct and stern, she closed her ears and purposefully tuned me out so my words wouldn’t hurt; in reality she was trying SO hard. Her little heart was broken thanks to my choice of the condescending tone and delivery of my message. She was sitting there with tears streaming down her cheeks upset because mom did it wrong . . . again. I was instantly convicted of what I had done and confessed to her that I was wrong and asked for forgiveness. She was gracious and forgave me and we shared a very tender time of restoration between a mother and daughter.


It could have ended there, but I wanted to show a true desire to change for my daughter and I knew I had much learning to do. I asked her if we could brainstorm together how I could improve my communication with her. From that, I learned that I needed to form my statements into questions that were kind and gentle. My tone needed to be soft and a bit higher pitched for her to not put up a wall. I was so grateful for this knowledge and was amazed at how well it worked when put into action. Our mornings started to transform! And even though there was still a struggle with the issues at hand, we were able to deal with it together. I am so thankful that God continues to soften my stubborn heart and that He used this opportunity to give me a chance to show my daughter how much I loved her, by owning my mistake and making a change!


Through mentors, God has taught me that I have a VERY important choice to make when someone brings a concern to me:

  1. I can become defensive and build a case for “why” the situation transpired that way, or
  2. I can become inquisitive and take the opportunity to learn how that person needs to be understood and loved differently


Thankfully the Lord continues to be gracious as he guides me on this path of change. I have learned that there is abundant freedom in seeking to understand vs. insisting on my own selfish way. I am constantly reminded that God has called me to LISTEN to him, WAIT for what the Holy Spirit has planned for me, and all I have to do is carry it out.


~ Nicole

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