Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (James 1:9 NLT).
I glanced up the hill behind our home, and I had eye contact with a doe as she watched over her fawn. As I continued to water my wilting tomato plants on my wooden deck, the doe stepped closer to check my reaction to her movements.
I remained painfully still while watering my plants. Any sudden movement from me would have caused the doe and her fawn to scamper beyond my sight.
A few minutes later, I turned my head to redirect my hose toward another plant. When I looked back up, I saw the deer walking quietly away from me, grazing on the grass and plucking leaves from the low-hanging branches.
Without any words, I understood this message from nature, loud and clear, “We feel safe here if you don’t make any sudden moves to threaten us.”
Reality check. As I observed the doe and her fawn, I recalled a recent conflict with my daughter Tara, mother of five children.
How many times have I chased away my children with my impulsive words or quick temper? Too many to count.
Without outlining the nitty-gritty details of my personal life, I’ll “plead the Fifth Amendment” here—on the grounds that my answer may be self-humiliating.
Good word. So, I’ll just quote the wisdom of the Bible.
And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice. (Eph. 6:4 LB)
Am I cautious with my movements and reactions as I relate to my own children and grandchildren? I’m working on that one.
After I expressed my concerns and expectations to my daughter about a situation with one of her children, I regretted my hasty response and unsolicited advice. So, I offered a heartfelt apology, hoping and praying for her forgiveness. I realized that my emotional reactions often bring unintended consequences.
Reflection. Sometimes our silence speaks more clearly than our words. I know my voice can scare away an animal or bird, but sometimes I forget that just one inappropriate word can also repel a child, friend, or loved one.
We often use our written and spoken words to express our thoughts and feelings. But at times, we fail to guard our choice of words or listen to others. As a writer, I know the importance of editing my words. But often, I forget to consider the power of my spoken words, and I fail to “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” (Jms. 1:9 NLT)
When the doe appeared in my backyard again, I knew to be quiet. Opening a squeaky door or stepping on the dry, parched leaves would propel her to run to a safer place with her fawn.
As I watched the doe scamper away with her young a few minutes later, I thanked God for the lessons He sends me in nature for my own family and for my writing life. I offered a prayer of thanksgiving for being exposed to His truth expressed in nature and in my everyday life. Then, I asked Him to help me release my children and all of my expectations once again.
What concerns and expectations do you hope to release to God?