Years ago, I came across a helpful tip for parents: imagine all the things you say to your children as a pie chart. How much of the pie is praise and encouragement? How much of the pie is criticism, directions, or nagging?
It was an eye-opening exercise, and one that applies to relationships beyond the parent/child one. Whether it’s a spouse, a coworker, or a sibling, it’s awfully easy to focus on the negative. The things left undone, the things done but done incorrectly, the little ways this person has not lived up to our expectations: sometimes that’s the first (or only) thing that we verbalize.
But, as we hear in today’s psalm, God offers us another way:
“Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. He will not always chide, nor does he keep his wrath forever” (Psalm 103:8-9).
He will not always chide. Will I?
Do I really need to scold my son over not cleaning his room? Probably not; the creative chaos works for him, even if it doesn’t for me. Should I make a stink when someone borrows something from my office desk and forgets to put it back? No, not when I’m guilty of occasionally doing the same (cue a sheepish look).
Sometimes, of course, we do need to chide. It takes wisdom and discernment to know when to do so. For me, I’ve found that the “you shoulds” and the “why didn’t yous” are most often my first—but not my best—reaction. Pausing, breathing deeply, sending a little prayer for patience can help me respond with the mercy and grace that we find in our loving God.
And our relationships are much sweeter—and, I believe, far more nourishing—when praise, laughter, and encouragement are the largest part of the pie.
So challenge yourself: Think of one person today you can respond to without chiding, instead with mercy and grace.Respond with mercy. // Ginny Kubitz Moyer Click To Tweet
Thank you for being here.
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