Our pastor and his sons stopped by, on a hot, summer afternoon, to return the kayaks they had borrowed. As they were getting ready to leave, I said, “Hey, could you give me a lift down to the mechanic?” Our car had been in the shop and was ready for pick-up.
“No problem,” he said.
We chatted about life, as he drove down the road, and the chatting caused him to miss the turn into the mechanic’s shop.
“You can just let me out here,” I said.
“No way,” he said, as he started to turn around.
“Joey. It’s only a few yards to the mechanic. I can walk.”
But he ignored me. “My mom would not have it,” he said. “I can hear her voice right now, telling me that I had better drive you right to the door.”
Well, you can’t argue with a guy’s mom, even if she’s in heaven.
That was a sobering moment for me. The lesson Joey’s mom had taught him when he was growing up, about how to treat girls, was still alive in his mind. He could vividly hear her voice.
Made me wonder how my voice will keep ringing in my own kids’ ears, long after I’m gone. For sure, my son will never take off a pair of socks without hearing me say, “Don’t even think about putting those nasty things wrong-side-out in the laundry. No woman in the world wants to reach her hand into a dirty sock, to turn it right-side-out!”
Can Harping Be Beneficial?
The expression “to harp on someone” is a musical expression. It originally meant to harp or to pluck on the same string over and over again.
Is it wrong for us moms to harp on our kids?
I would like to answer that question with Paul’s words to the followers of Christ:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)
Harping on our kids can be a destructive, complaining, corrupting kind of talk that comes out of our mouths.
It can wear our kids down, the way my mom’s leaky outdoor faucet eventually started eating away at the concrete foundation below it.
Or, harping on the same string can be done gracefully and for our kids’ good. It can build them up.
For example, in one of my finer moments, I said to my son, “Someday you will be married, and your wife will love it if you’re thoughtful enough to turn your own socks right-side-out.”
Words can build good men.
Building Up or Wearing Down?
I also think of all the times I said to my kids, “What do you say?” In doing so, I prompted them to say thank you whenever they received from others, which was a beneficial, constant plucking on the harp.
Push in your chair. Push in your chair. Push in your chair.
Clear your place. Clear your place. Clear your place.
Wait your turn. Wait your turn. Wait your turn.
Playing the harp is elegant –the music peaceful and calming. This is the kind of sound we can make, to ring for years to come in the ears of our children.
This week, I encourage you to listen to yourself. Are the words you repeat to your children building them up or wearing them out?
Take the time to jot down a few things you would like to purposefully harp on –words that you know will help shape your child into a beautiful person.
With love from Montana,
Christy Fitzwater is a writer and pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She has a daughter who is married and a son in college. Christy writes to help people know God, and you can find her new book about becoming blameless on Amazon. Or follow her devotional blog at ChristyFitzwater. You can follow Christy on Instagram here!