Our words reveal a focus on self or a focus on God or others

Yesterday, I shared about our annual neighborhood garage sale and how my kids rode their bikes, cash in pocket, searching for just the right affordable treasure. You can read that story of  how I reacted ever-so-kindly to their off-the-chart treasure finds here.

However, this part of the garage sale treasure find is pitiful. I’m revealing my ugly, self-focused mindset which resulted in unkind, hurtful words.


Here’s what I saw through MY eyes.

The kids had gone garage sale-ing on their bikes in the neighborhood. Each one brought home different, unique to their personality, garage sale treasures. My five or so year old daughter brought a flower pot full of fake, bright purple daisies. I was already feeling overwhelmed with too much “stuff” in our house. One of MY philosophies is that everything needs to have a place, and if it doesn’t, out it goes. (out the door, that is). And, as far as decor, everything needs to match and fit MY overall grand scheme in color and style. And purple didn’t cut it.  Therefore as I quickly processed this gift and the practical aspects of its location in the house, it didn’t pass the test…the test that I didn’t realize I had.

The “me” test.

Is it practical? Does it match? Is there a place to store it? Is it decorative or clutter? Can I handle it? Can it fit in a decor ensemble somewhere?

But, alas, you do this too…only your “filter” will be whatever YOUR focus is.

Back to her. She gave me the flower pot with purple daisies and my reaction was less than spectacular. In fact, I’m sure I crushed her that moment as my words AND my reaction didn’t measure up. They didn’t breathe life, they brought death. Death of a vision that she had worked up in her little heart and mind of how spectacular this treasure would be received. I saw it on her countenance. My words, instead of bringing life, brought death.

My focus on clutter and how easily I am overwhelmed by it overruled the ability to see through the eyes of a child.

Proverbs 18:21. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Here’s what I saw when I learned to see through HER eyes.

My sweet, little, thoughtful daughter had a quarter. After going house to house, from garage sale to garage sale, surveying all the treasures, she CHOSE to spend it on ME. She must have seen JUST the right gift…and had thoughts run through her mind like this.

  • “These flowers are beautiful.”
  • “Mom is going to be so surprised.”
  • “She is going to love these.”
  • “I have just enough money to buy these two.”
  • “I can’t wait to give her one right away and then wrap one up for later.”
  • “I must hurry home and give this to her. I can’t wait!!”

And then I imagine her paying the lady her shiny quarter, with a big grin on her face, with great anticipation of how I will react. I envision that on the way home she had to ride her bike with great caution as to not risk dropping her priceless treasures. In fact, it was probably hard for a little one to do that – but with the vision dancing around in her little heart of giving it to me, she pedaled with great joy. She probably played through in her mind how she’d give me one…should she come in with it behind her back or maybe set it on the kitchen counter for me to see as a surprise gift?  She rehearsed in her mind- Where should I hide the second one so she doesn’t see it? She may have even played out my reaction, anticipating great elation – would I immediately hug her, jump up and down with excitement, or maybe I’d kiss her first? “Will Mom cry?” She probably pictured where I’d place them in the house-on display for all to see. She probably thought ” My mom is going to think this is the  most beautiful gift ever” as she rode her little bike home the rest of the way.

Everything changed when I saw the gift through the eyes of the giver.

Our words reflect our intent to heal or hurt.

Proverbs 14:4. Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.

Romans 12:15.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; Weep with those who weep.

Sadly, I didn’t realize how precious and full of thought her little gift was until a few hours later, when I saw, in her closet, a gift bag overflowing with tissue paper. The wrapping itself spoke of a thoughtful giver who gave special attention to detail. It showed of great anticipation of the delivery. I gently pulled out the tissue paper, and inside the bag was the most beautiful gift ever… fake, bright yellow daisies in a pot.  (exactly like the purple ones, only these were yellow.) A little girl’s hand-picked, shiny quarter’s purchase, all wrapped with expressions of her love written all over it…for me.

You can bet my lesson had been learned -and my reaction this time breathed life with words of rejoicing and delighting with her over such a precious, thoughtful, personally picked treasure.

Today, that pot of vibrant yellow daisies sits in our den. It’s a reminder to me of the power of our words. (The picture above is an actual picture of it in our home.)

I pray today that you realize the power of your words to bring death or promote life. And that you see through my hurtful example, that our words reflect our priorities, our viewpoint, and our focus.  Finally, I pray we all do a better job the rest of our lives about seeing situations through the eyes of others.

Luke 6:45.  Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Just wanted to add one final comment. If you’ve blown it, hurting your child with your words…please read the blog post  T2T. Regrets and Mistakes. Truly, with a focus on the intent to heal, your words of ownership in your apology will bring life and healing. Praying for that in your life as I type.

Rhonda istherehealingthatneedstotakeplaceinyourfamilyoverthewordsyou’veMISspoken ellis

  1. Nancy Bethea

    Excellent post, Rhonda. I appreciate your honesty.


    • Thank you, Nancy. Transparency is needed.

  2. Mel

    Your honesty is refreshing always.

  3. You’re refreshing. Miss you.

  4. Susan Iida-Pederson

    Hey, Rhonda! It’s Susan Iida-Pederson and I read every word of this to the very end before I realized it was you! I can’t do as you encouraged us to do long ago – “When you think something nice about someone, say it out loud” – so, I’ll write it here: You are a gifted writer and bless the world with your thoughtful, positive, loving words … Keep sharing your wisdom and God’s messages … and keep choosing joy!

    • Rhonda Ellis

      Hi Susan!!!!!! What a JOY to hear from you, my mentor. I think of you often. Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for investing in my writing and speaking during our amazing days with Creative Memories. 🙂

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