Over the last year or so, our family has been on a quest for a healthier lifestyle. We are eating less processed foods and eating more whole and healthy foods. We are taking time each day to move our bodies, whether it be a dance party in the kitchen after dinner, a fun game on the Wii, or kicking the soccer ball around at the park.
We want to honor God with our bodies, especially since we are commanded to love Him with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind and all of our strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5, emphasis mine). However, despite our best efforts, something was missing. I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was, but there was a nagging in the pit of my stomach that we were missing a key element in our journey to better health.
Then one day as I was praying over and searching for the verse God wanted me to meditate on, I came across this little gem:
"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." Proverbs 16:24 ESV
I was left breathless as the Spirit convicted me down to my core that the health of gracious words is what had been missing from our family's quest for balance and health.
Merriam-Webster defines gracious as:
1. very polite in a way that shows respect.
2. marked by kindness and courtesy; marked by tact and delicacy.
3. merciful, compassionate.
I thought over my own words over recent months and tried to discern if they had been very polite in a way that shows respect? Have my words been marked by kindness and courtesy? Have they been merciful and compassionate? Um...well...not really.
I wanted to get a better handle on what gracious words might look/sound like, so I looked up the antonyms for gracious. Here are a few:
Inhospitable. Abrupt. Blunt. Curt. Sharp. Snippy. Grumpy.
Friends, I am embarrassed and ashamed to say that my default mode tends away from gracious words and towards blunt, snippy, and grumpy. It seems as though my family has been living with a combination of some of the less popular dwarves in Snow White's merry band.
I have taken this verse and written it in my spiral. I think on it throughout the day. I pray for Him to fill my mouth with gracious words that are sweet to the ears and bring health to my family. I've also been trying to come up with some more gracious responses for those times when frustrations run high and my word-filter tends to disappear.
Default: Seriously?? You forgot your water bottle at school again?!? Well, I guess you just get to drink from a dirty bottle next week.
Gracious Alternative: I'm sorry you're having trouble remembering your water bottle. Ask your teacher to help you wash it so it will be cleaner until we can wash it properly at home.
Default: Good grief! How many times do I have to remind you to put this stack of clothes away?!
Gracious Alternative: I know you are in the middle of your favorite book, but that stack of clothes is still on the couch. Please put the book down, put them away, and then you can continue reading. Thank you.
Default: What do you mean your need your snowsuit for school today?!? As we are walking out the door late for school is not the time to tell me this!! You should've told me yesterday! Why can't you remember these things??
Gracious Alternative: Your snowsuit is in the closet. Please get it quickly and we will meet you downstairs. I know you didn't mean to leave it until the last second, but it will help next time if you can tell me the day before it is needed. Thanks!
I have a strong personality, and I tend towards strong stress-fueled reactions when I feel rushed, confused, frustrated or tired. However, I am learning that these Gracious Alternatives do not take any more time to say than the curt, snippy defaults that have crept into my habits. It does take more effort to keep my voice calm and to choose words that are merciful and compassionate, but the more we make the effort, the easier the gracious honeycomb-words will come.
Are you like me, sweet friend? Does your default vocabulary/tone of voice need a soothing honeycomb makeover? Join me in meditating on this verse daily for the next two weeks, and let's make a point to be intentional about choosing honeycomb over chili peppers when we speak to our families. Let's also be quick to admit when we've reverted to our default, and quick to ask forgiveness.
So, what do you say? Are you up for the Honeycomb Challenge? Leave a statement or word of commitment in the comments section to let us know you're in, and let's encourage one another to healthier families!