Use your words

I heard a newborn baby crying in church. You know, it was a sweet sound. The mom had a difficult delivery and it was such a blessing to see both of them happy and healthy.

Some of the kids turned around to see what was wrong — or to see how long the baby was going to get away with this. I felt like explaining to them that crying is the only language babies have and it doesn’t always mean they are in pain, or even that something is wrong.

Then the Lord spoke to me in my spirit and said, “Sometimes people cry and whine because it’s the only language they have.”

This came up in the context of praying about how to respond to people I care about, but who cry and whine a lot. (OK, I’m one too). Sometimes I feel like a mom in the kitchen at 5 o’clock with a whimpering baby demanding to be picked up and a whiny toddler demanding immediate satisfaction and an older child groaning about being asked to set the table. I get frustrated and I am so tempted to snap at them using a less than kind tone myself.

If a child is never spoken to she will never learn to use words. If a child is only criticized he will never learn to speak positively. Children learn by hearing, or by watching in the case of sign language, and then by being given opportunities and encouragement to practise their new skills.

Sometimes, like my three toddler grandchildren, we need to be reminded to use the skills we are gaining. Frustration and whining decreased when they learned the signs for milk, please and thank you. Now they are starting to talk, and the oldest one is being actively taught to use kind words by her parents who have instituted a time of blessing every day. Even the 18 month old is learning to say, “Nice, smart, kind, strong.”

I wonder if some people cry and protest a lot because it is the only language they know. I wonder if we need to teach people how to gain new ways of expressing themselves. I wonder if we need to speak more kind words to them.

I wonder if my prayers would be more effective if my first response to Abba’s requests was not a groan. (Although admittedly there are sometimes in prayer when there are no words, and only a primal moan will do.)

I wonder if we need to be very understanding of those who only have the language of crying.

I wonder if we also need to seek the Lord for discernment and wisdom as they grow to recognize the time to start withholding gratification and to say, in as kind and patient a voice as we can manage, “Use your words.”

I wonder if God sometimes withholds gratification until we learn to communicate respectfully with an attitude of trust and appreciation –to help us mature. I hear him say, “Use your words, honey.”

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Phil 4:6