Sometime during the early years of married life, I had finally become comfortable with my in-laws.   One day I confided to one of my husband’s aunts that I was not happy about something someone had done.  She answered me, “Joyce, you say things about people sometimes that aren’t nice.  That’s not Christ-like!  It’s wicked!”

            That shut me up for a while!  I had never considered myself wicked before, but after that remark, I began to listen to my speech.  Unfortunately, I heard negative statements and harsh criticisms, especially about family members.

            I wish I could say that was a pivotal point in my speech habits.    It was, at least for a time.  I prayed for help so my words would be “with grace.”  [Colossians 4:6]  I wanted to talk in a helpful and encouraging way.  I improved some, but there were too many relapses.  I just kept praying and persevering.

            Sometime later, I told my mother-in-law that my children did not always do as I asked.  She wisely replied, “Why should you expect them to be perfect?  You have never been.”

            Shocked, I teared up, then realized how smart she was.  With new perspective, I observed my children and recalled some of my mischief at their age.  I was slow to mature!

            When I lamented to my husband about our daughter, he kindly suggested that perhaps her actions bothered me because we were so much alike!  I wanted to refute that, but I knew that both my daughter and I aired our strong opinions, so he was probably correct.

            Often, we have problems getting along with others, especially if there is a generation gap.  We older ones expect the younger ones to know better, to be mature, to make reasonable decisions, and to be responsible and dependable for their commitments.  Too often we forget that before the years matured us, we were probably very much like them.

            It helps me to remember my mother-in-law and her sister, in their wisdom, telling me to be careful before I speak or judge.  Sometimes, criticism can make us better if we heed the warning.  Criticisms have their place; however, encouraging words help so much when we get discouraged or depressed. 

            Each morning, as a forgiven believer, I get a new opportunity to be bold for Jesus.  I pray for Christ-like speech.  I have not yet arrived, but I keep pressing on.



Joyce Broyles is a retired High School Librarian and resides in Jennings, LA.