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“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29
My husband found the above scripture, printed out several copies and placed them on doors, mirrors, etc. He then gave a lesson on gossiping and challenged everyone in our family over the age of eight to memorize the scripture. When everyone did, we would have a malt party. My kids were thrilled!! It was funny; throughout the week, while I was working on projects around the house, my kids (who had already memorized it) would review with me so that I would get it memorized. It was fun for me to watch them work so hard on a family goal. I was the last to learn it, but we all did it in about a week.
For a while, we reminded each other not to use “mean talk” to one another. It seemed to make a big difference. But then all of the posted scriptures, except the one on the refrigerator, eventually fell down and were thrown away. Slowly, we saw the “mean talk”, even in joking, coming back.
Inspired, my husband had us play a game to which I didn’t know the rules. He had me hide in my room while he explained the game to our kids. He then blindfolded me and brought me out to the living room. He gave me a bucket of pencils and pens and told me to throw them into a basket, even though I had no idea where it was located. I began and the kids immediately shouted mean things to me. I dropped the pencils, I tossed them, never knowing if I hit the basket. It was frustrating because it seemed futile.
Then the kids changed their words to positive ones, like “Good job, you’re awesome,” etc. I felt better about the game, but I still had no idea if I was even close. Next the kids started shouting positive words and encouraging me to toss “a little to the left” or “a little farther.” Even though I never got one pencil into the basket, I was very close and was more interested and determined to make it happen. I enjoyed myself much more, and if I had been given more pens or pencils, I could have made it.
My husband blindfolded our third oldest and let her try. He asked her how it felt when the kids were yelling negative words at her. She said, “It hurt.” We discussed this for a while. Then we recited the scripture in Ephesians 4:29 again. My husband explained that the scripture doesn’t just say to avoid corrupt or negative communication. It doesn’t even say to just use positive words. He explained that it wasn’t until I received positive direction or words that were “to the use of edifying” that I began to come close to the basket. He explained that there was a lot of negative joking and like our daughter said earlier, “It hurts.”
My husband then explained to the kids that he had me go first because he wanted them to understand that their mom needed to hear good, positive words and feedback also. At that point I became emotional. It’s so true. Sometimes, my efforts feel pointless because they aren’t appreciated as much as I need. It is so helpful to my emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being when I get encouragement. It was an excellent visualization and exercise for our family. We know that we’ll need to revisit this subject many times throughout our life but that it will be worth it.
CHALLENGE: Encourage your family to memorize Ephesians 4:29 or a similar verse from a different religious text.
QUESTION: Can your family improve in eliminating gossip or by increasing the uplifting talk in your home?