Thursday, July 19, 2018

Say Something

I watched as she swiped at the escaping tears.  With a pained expression, he rubbed his forehead a second time.  They sat looking straight ahead.  Neither of them able nor willing to see the other.

This isn't the beginning of some silly novel.  It's the real life action I observed early this morning while waiting at a traffic light. Always people watching, I happened to be in the perfect spot to catch the interaction taking place between a dad and his teen-aged daughter.

"Did you know these people?" you may be asking.  No, I didn't.

But after so many years of studying people and body language and relationships, a few suppositions were obvious.  The girl was too young to be his wife.  It was too early for a joy ride; he must have been taking her to a summer job. 

Remember, we also have a lot of experience riding in cars with teen-age daughters.  Even if those guesses were wrong, the tension was visible to anyone taking time to see.

When I see someone in traffic who appears to be in distress, I try to offer a short prayer for them.  Something like one of these. . .
  • "Father, let your peace come into that vehicle."  
  • "Dear Lord, give them grace to be forgiving."  
  • "Heavenly Father, may they sense your love right now."
It doesn't matter if I know them or not.  They're known by our Father and there may not be anyone else to lift them in prayer just at the moment they need it.   I look at it through the lens of Solomon's admonition in Ecclesiastes, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might."  I am the one who noticed them; I should pray.

For the two minutes that I was part of the struggle between this dad and daughter, I did pray.  But I also wanted to shout to the dad, "Say Something!"

Most likely he was thinking he didn't know what to say.  That's normal.  We seldom ever have the perfect words during a moment of disagreement.  Perfect words don't matter.  Shattering the barrier of silence does matter.

Professional counselors may have another perspective and that's fine.  I'm just a mom who has ridden in the Cone of Silence with a frustrated teen-ager many times.  And I can tell you this, silence hardens hearts. That's true between spouses and friends, as well.

Especially if you're dealing with a daughter, remember there is never a waking moment that a woman doesn't have words happening in her head.  If you leave that young woman to silently argue through the situation in her own thoughts, it only grows more negative with each passing moment.

Interrupt that train of destructive thought with some word of quiet reassurance:

  • "I do love you."
  • "I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings."  
  • "I hope you believe I want what's best for you."  
  • "You don't feel like talking now but can we pray together before you leave?"
Do something to break that barrier.  Even if you have to take a step back when they unleash their frustration, it's important to keep communicating.  Silence can become an escape and eventually even a habit.

When our girls were little, we taught them a secret communication.  The first person would give the second three quick squeezes.  That meant, "I. Love. You."  The second person then responded with four little squeezes meaning, "I. Love. You. Too."  

No words were used but we had communicated with one another.  Their faces would light up.  And sometimes they were so excited participating in the secret code they would then announce it.  "Mom, I just told Daddy, I. Love. You.  He squeezed my hand and said, I. Love. You. Too!"  

Can you hear the giggles of joy that followed?

One afternoon, I had to discipline one of our daughters.  It had been a severe breaking of the rules and the punishment was equal to the offense.  When I went back into her bedroom later to talk over the situation, she refused to talk with me.  

After waiting a few minutes I said, "Okay, that's your choice.  You don't have to talk right now.  Just remember, we have to deal with this before you go to sleep tonight."  I reassured her of my love, stepped out and quietly closed her door.

The girls all knew our routine after any discipline.  We gave them time to think over their actions.  We went back to discuss the offense.  We made sure they understood the punishment, then prayed together.  

But bedtime was coming quickly and still no closure.  The silent daughter had already climbed into her bed when we gathered to read their Bible story and say nighttime prayers.  We couldn't let her go to sleep with the struggle unresolved but I was all too familiar with the resolute look on her face.

What was I to do?  I offered a quiet prayer while Dad read the story. 

That's when it hit me.  While someone else was praying, I reached over to the silent daughter and ever so gently squeezed her foot three times.  "I. Love. You."  

With only a slight hesitation, she gave my hand four distinct pats.  "I. Love. You. Too."  The silence was broken.

It was the next morning before we were able to have our follow-up discussion.  Our daughter still wasn't happy but her frustration level had dropped and we were able to talk calmly.

What's my message today?

Simply this: if you find yourself in a frustrating moment, don't go silent.  Say Something.  Pray for wisdom and speak up.  Don't use silence as a shield or as an excuse or as a wall.  That relationship is far to precious.

They can not read your mind, Dear Friend.  If you love them, say it.  If you're sorry, ask forgiveness.  If you regret the misunderstanding, express yourself better.

Paul gave a helpful warning to us in Ephesians 4.  "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."  In other words, deal with the situation.  Don't go to bed silent and angry.  Say Something!

That's my word of encouragement for today and I'm sticking to it!  Blessings!



How about you?  Any experience in this area of struggle?  Any tips to share with our other readers?  We'd love to read your thoughts in the comment box below.














8 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for taking time to comment, Angela.

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  2. Sheri, What a wonderful idea. My husband and I are great at silence.:( Thanks, Karen

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    Replies
    1. We all have those moments, don't we? Glad it was helpful, Karen.

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  3. Great post. Much food for thought!
    Deb mantik

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  4. I'm the one who, if THAT angry, needs space. However, my son is the one who taught me to open up (when it wasn't him I was angry with)!

    Ciao!
    Guerrina

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    Replies
    1. When we know our own tendencies it really helps, doesn't it? :-)
      Thanks for sharing, Guerrina!

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