Sometimes the most obvious truths pierce the heart the deepest. Sometimes the simplest wisdom sparks a metamorphosis. While reading Home-Making by J. R. Miller, I paused at a paragraph early on in the book because its truth seemed so obvious, yet it is something I struggle with often.
Is politeness merely a manner that is necessary in interaction with the outside world, and not required when we are alone with those we love the best? Are home hearts so peculiarly constituted, that they are not pained or offended by things that would never be pardoned in us, if done in ordinary society? Are we under no obligations to be respectful and to pay homage to our dearest friends–while even to the rudest clown, or the greatest stranger, which we meet outside our own doors–we feel ourselves bound to show the most perfect civility?
On the contrary, there is no place in the world where the amenities of courtesy should be so carefully maintained, as in the home. There are no hearts which hunger so, for expressions of affection, as the hearts of which we are most sure. There is no love which so needs its daily bread–as the love that is strongest and holiest. There is no place where rudeness or incivility is so unpardonable, as inside our own doors and toward our best beloved! The tenderer the love and the truer–the more it craves the thousand little attentions and kindnesses which so satisfy the heart.
My heart read those words and thought immediately of how often I take out my frustrations with the cable company or the bumper-to-bumper traffic on my husband. Or how often I take out my frustrations with the long line at the grocery store on my kids. I skip please and thank you because surely they know I mean those things and I’m in a hurry. I say and do things to them that I would never dream of saying or doing to a stranger. But more than anyone else, my best words, my most tender affections, my sweetest smiles should be lavished upon those within the walls of my home, those whom I love most. As a wife and mom, my words set the tone for our home. With one carefully chosen phrase, I can diffuse my husband’s bad day at the office. With one subtle wink across the dinner table, I can speak volumes into his heart. With one early morning bedhead hug for my girls, I can start our day with a smile. God has given me that persuasion with my family. It is a mighty tool and a great responsibility. I have failed many, many times in this area, but the last couple years I have come to realize the power my words, my tone and my body language have within our home. I still fail–and always will which is why the words “I’m sorry” matter so much–but slowly I’m learning the power my tongue holds.
Yesterday I read in Song of Solomon, “Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue.” Can the same be said of me?