Speaking Life

They say the world is divided into two kinds of people, those who see a glass of water and call it half-empty and those who say it’s half-full.  I’ll admit that I’m in the first group.  Part of it’s personality, I suspect, and part of it’s due to the fact that as a classically trained cellist I was brought up with an artist’s mindset.  In order to improve my intonation, phrasing, or bowing, I had to see and hear what was wrong with the way I was executing those elements.  Over the years I developed a sensitive musical ear, an almost sixth sense when something in my playing wasn’t right.  It allowed me to correct mistakes and to improve my performance.  It was incredibly useful.

And it made me kind-of miserable.

Because, the truth is, I had a hard time turning off my inner critic—even when I wanted to–and she followed me everywhere.  I noticed her when my penmanship was imperfect or my writing was dull and awkward.  I heard her whisper when other people used incorrect grammar (though I never dreamed of calling their attention to it), and I judged them quietly.  When I performed a piece of music and a high note came out wobbly, she was there, hissing her disapproval.

As I grew up and experienced more of the world, I wanted to shed this critic—sort-of.  I was afraid to let her go 100% as I wasn’t sure if I’d still be able to judge what was good or bad about my art, if I’d be able to improve without her nagging.  Still, our relationship with one another had grown decidedly strained and I wanted to take a break from her quiet, knife-like voice in my head.

What I didn’t realize is that she didn’t want to go—that she wouldn’t go—without a fight.

And now?  I realize that I’ve brought this unwelcome friend along for the homeschool ride, and it has resulted in my neglecting to encourage my kids like I ought to.  It’s not that I’m not proud of them or that I don’t value their achievements and character growth.  I do.  It’s just that, like an assembly line worker in front of a conveyor belt, I’m so used to seeing what needs fixing or removing or repairing in a situation (or a person or myself) that I neglect to point out, and praise, what is right and good. 

When my daughter brings me a fanciful story she’s written and I love it, truly, but instead of complimenting it find myself saying, “Remember that you need an apostrophe there, and, is that how we spell that word?” she gets discouraged.  There’s no other way to spin it.

These days I am making a concerted effort to praise the things my kids do right—whether these things take the form of kindnesses to one another, crisply made beds, or stories with amazingly apt character development.  I may see the negative in their work or actions.  (No.  I will see it.)  But I’m praying that the Lord helps me practice praising what is right and good in my kids because this kind of communication edifies instead of tearing down.  We all need encouragement in our work, don’t we?  We all need to know that someone appreciates the good they see in us.

And I want to become that kind of person for my kids, someone who speaks life into their days and helps them do the same for others.   

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10 thoughts on “Speaking Life

  1. Hannah, I totally get what you are saying here. I am a glass half full person too, but that inner nag comes with the package more than I’d like her to. I LOVE that you’re a cellist. My 3rd child (boy) is a very gifted cellist (he insisted on learning the Shostakovitch Concerto No. 1 by age 10 and the youngest of his teacher’s students to ever do so 😉 He’s almost 12 now and has reached a level we never dreamed.

    I think as homeschoolers we are so caught up in always trying to prove ourselves to the outside world that we sometimes forget that our children are little (or big) people who are intelligent and kind and capable and we have this agenda, “got to get it done!!” mentality, that we fail to see the big picture, getting our kids to heaven, right? I have homeschooled all four of my children from the beginning and going on 14+ years now and I struggle everyday with the need to constantly correct and take control and try to fix it. I need to learn all over again, with each new day to let go and let them just be. With the years though comes the experience and the knowledge that they are going to be okay, even without me trying to help them through it.

    Wishing you many years of “glass half full” and leaving the critic behind 🙂 Blessed Lent to you. xo

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  2. Brandy says:

    I’m with you! I’ve been homeschooling since 2002 and it was only recently that I told one of my children that he’s ‘so smart’! That was the first time I’ve told any of my kids that, though I believe it of every one of them. I definitely compliment their good work and habits regularly, but also fairly generically. I might say, “You can do it. It’ll be easy for you. Good job,” and things like that. When I told my youngest, “You’re so smart!” and he just quietly received and pondered the thought, I realized there are so many powerful truths I could be speaking into my sons’ lives to edify them. BIG praise that makes them think, “Me? Yeah, me!”

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