By Donna Tobin Smith
“Do you ever wonder whether or not to say it?” I was looking for a little empathy, a listening ear. For some reason, I had assumed that as my children grew into young adults that my distinct, audible instructions would gradually transform into a still small voice in their heads.
Surely twenty-something years of a mother’s words would be plenty of time to teach, advise and direct. But as a parent of three grown sons, I continue to find myself in situations when I feel the need to say something, to make some kind of comment. Sometimes it is just a fleeting thought in my head and I am able to dismiss the words rather easily. But sometimes the urge is so strong that I catch myself mentally clamping my hands over my mouth, willing the words not to escape. Then there are the times when I just say it. Not sure whether I should or not, I just say it.
“I do,” she answered. “In fact, let me tell you about last night,” she explained, as she recounted a conversation that she had had with her adult daughter.
“That’s exactly what I mean,” I exclaimed as my friend finished her story. “You do understand.”
I had a story of my own. I had measured my words too. I had avoided the temptation to tell my son what he already knew. I was aware that he had a midnight deadline for a college class that he was taking. He had told me earlier in the day that he had a paper to write, a quiz to take, and another assignment, all due by midnight. I watched as the hours ticked by, mentally noting that he had made not a single attempt to stroke the first key toward completing the assignments.
I stayed out of his room, trying desperately to hold my tongue as the midnight deadline approached. All the while my mind was screaming, “Are you nuts? What if the computer dies? Why are you waiting so late when you know the work is due?” When I nonchalantly sauntered into his room a few minutes after midnight under the guise of putting away laundry, he announced. “11:57. Assignments complete.” Believe it or not, I had not spoken a word
Do you see what I mean? Does it happen to you?
In the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, Solomon penned these wise words of counsel. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
Fortunately, I know the words that have been spoken in our home. I know the godly instructions that have been given to these sons through the years. I am also aware of the times when wise counsel has been ignored and careless words have hurt.
So the next time I wonder whether or not to say it, I will remind myself again of the words of Solomon. And when I speak, I will pray that my words will be “aptly spoken, like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)
But most of all, I will pray that one day the words I have spoken to my sons will help them hear God’s words just a little clearer.