Rhymes for Kindly Children
“A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot...” ― Robert A. Heinlein,
Way # 20 "We choose to be gracious even when we do not feel like it."
Memory Verse "Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13: 1-2
Moving to Tennessee when my little ones were small meant that all of us had to leave dear friends to start over again. Sequestering 6 of us in a small hotel room raised the stress levels and I was trying to meet everyone's needs, while feeling blue myself. Food was needed, so I found a grocery store near by.
A southern belle, with a strong drawl was checking me out and smiling so sweetly. "You are just the cutest thing. How are you, tonight, honey? Are you having a good evening?"
Crazy me burst into tears. Somehow having unexpected kindness opened the waters and I realized her gentle, kind voice and soft eyes made me feel like I wasn't invisible and that someone cared at least a little about me--even the stranger at the grocery store.
Contrasting this, rude behavior can also reveal my heart and surprise me with how ready I am to feel badly--even by a stranger's words.
Recently, I was standing in line quietly at Walmart to pick up some medicine. A surly young woman, looked up and glared at me, pointed her finger in my face and said,
"Hey lady! Hey you! Move back to that fire extinguisher. We don't want you hanging round here so close. It bothers us. Just wait for your turn back behind the fire extinguisher! Go on now!"
Inside, I immediately felt offended by her manner of speaking condescendingly to me and the outright demand she made out-loud in front of a crowd with no sense of graciousness. Her words and attitude accosted my heart. It took me by surprise to react so quickly to someone I had never met.
I wonder if this is how children feel when a mama goes off on them when they are totally unsuspecting.
Probably, this happens to all of us far too often.Each stranger had an impact on my heart, but each made a choice of how they would relate.
I realized how, living in a whole culture that was surly, inconsiderate or dishonoring to people, where people cut in on the freeway, and all sorts of other brow beating incidents, cultivates hostility. If indeed this incident had taken me by surprise and created a reaction---and I am a believer trying to be loving in my responses--then surely on a larger scale, it would cultivate an atmosphere of casual disrespect and inconsiderate behaviors of others-which leads to broken or callous relationships on the whole.
Old fashioned manners, honor and respect were drilled into me daily when I was young, and so I drilled it into my own children.
"You need to honor those older than you."
"Make a choice to treat people as though they have worth and use friendly voices and faces."
"Give all people respect as it makes them feel dignified and opens their hearts."
Over and over again we repeated our 24 ways, our desires, correction and modeling graciousness until it became a part of my children's pathways of thinking in each situation.
Jesus bowed his knee to serve every person who came his way--women, prostitutes, children, lepers, tax collectors, so that His actions gave each person He met worth. There is great dignity in relationships when people learn the ways of graciousness.
However, I fear it is too quickly becoming a lost value. The more we devalue God's values--and dishonor the value of children, the great value of elders and wise older women, and embrace euthanasia, the more we feel free to criticize everyone in office with no sense of reverence or culpability towards God, the more we demean the value Jesus gave all human beings. Lace of graciousness is a downward spiral toward the degeneration of all relationships.
When honor is gone, there is no basis for strength or integrity in relationship.
Our sense of graciousness to others, will build our own humility and desire to see God's great worth and holiness.
If a child is not taught that some relationships are holy in nature, worthy of respect an graciousness, then they will have no place in their minds to understand the holy nature of God, and our need to honor and give Him worth through all the ways we behave in life.
How do we train our children to be gracious?
*We give them verses to memorize:
"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31 Then we constantly train and instruct. "Is that the way you would like to be treated? What makes you feel important in the eyes of others? (Stop what you are doing and look someone right in the eyes. That tells them they have great value to you.)
*Teach your children to speak graciously to others.
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (one of my favorite training verses.) And then we say, "How could you have said that more graciously? Did you consider how to respond to everyone so that they would be encouraged?
*Before you have guests to your home, (or before you go to someone else's home for a meal), you train, train, train. "Greet each person who comes to our home in a way that will tell them we are happy to have them. Learn to ask at least one question to everyone who comes so they will know you care. Please tell the mama who cooked the meal, "thank you for having us," because she will know you appreciate her.
*Give little immediate instructions. "Open the door for people before they walk through when you can." Give up your chair to others older and and others more in need of a chair than yourself." "If you see someone who is being left out of a game, try to find a way to include them."
Graciousness is a constant mindset that says, "I am the mercy of Christ to those in need.
I am the respect of Christ to others who need to know their worth. I am the loving words of Jesus to those who need to hear life-giving words."
When a child grows up developing this kind of graciousness as they go, they will have it as a treasure the rest of their lives. And of course, it goes without saying, that graciousness begins with the way you treat your children--remember, we choose to be gracious to our children even when we do not feel like it!"
We had many conferences, meetings, dinners where our children had to learn to wait on us and to be gracious with good attitudes in their waiting. But training them over and over and over again, gave them a self-image that they were called to become ambassadors for Christ in their worlds, and that is started with honor and gracious giving of themselves to others.
Training in graciousness has opened jobs for my children, scholarships, opportunities of all sorts. Having a value to honor and attend to others has caused others to want to work with them.
Eyes, voice and attitude were the ways we spoke of practically showing graciousness to others.
How have you trained your children to become a picture of the graciousness of God to others?
May someone treat you graciously today!
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