Monday, April 16, 2012
A Family's Love Lexicon
I love reading about ways to improve myself and my family life. I spend a portion of my free time reading books and magazines, visiting blogs and pinning great ideas from other moms in the hopes of finding ideas that inspire me to grow into the woman God envisions. I'd have to say my favorite ideas and the ones I'm most likely to act on are those that are free, easy and make a big impact on our family life. Today I'd like to share our family's love lexicon. They're just simple phrases we've gotten into the habit of saying that have blessed our family in numerous ways. I share them here in the hopes that they will bless you and those you hold most dear.
"Yes?!" Instead of "What?!" Early on in our married life Daniel and I made a New Year's resolution to respond to each other's calls with "Yes?!" instead of "What?!" Now I'm not dogging on people who use "what" to answer another's call for service. It's the socially accepted term and we all grow up learning to say "what" when people call our names. But we overheard another couple using "yes" instead of "what" and we both had to ask ourselves why we liked it better. We realized that "What?" sounds like you're being inconvenienced, whereas "yes" sounds like you are ready and willing to serve. "What?" can mean, "tell me what you want and I'll let you know if I want to do that" whereas "yes" is saying, "I'm at your service." I promise you this one is a small change with a huge impact.
"My Blessings" - A few years back I was reading about the National Spelling Bee contestants when I came across the name of a local contestant whose name was Blessing. Blessing. I wondered about her story and that of the parents who named her. It's a beautiful name infused with meaning. It must be lovely to go about life with the constant reminder that you are a precious gift every time your name is called. I decided in that moment that I would begin calling my children "My Blessings" as a term of endearment right along with honey, sweetie, and dear. Every morning as each of my bedheads make their entrance into our kitchen, I greet them with a big smile and say, "Good Morning My Blessing!!" (Yes, some days I have to fake it till I make it). Most mornings I watch as their faces light up. Some days they don't react to it but woe to me if I should forget! I figured that by calling them blessings, they would be blessed. But I have found that when I use the term, I am blessed with the reminder that they are my precious gifts that have been entrusted to me.
"How Can I Serve You" Daniel and I were in a group called Servants of the Cross in our former home town. They were missionaries from Ohio who founded a movement for families in Reynosa, Mexico. The missionaries were truly a joyful people and everyone they came in contact with left with joy in their hearts. One of the phrases they used was, "How can I serve you?" They explained that when we say "how can I help you?" it implies the person is in need and you are either equals or that one is in a position of power and is helping the powerless. Which is great! But when you say, "How can I serve you?" You're putting that person's dignity above your own by becoming their servant. You are asking to be at their service and as Christians that means they are the ones that are doing you the favor because we are all called to serve one another.
I used to be scared to approach strangers who clearly needed help. I was once scolded by someone for doing so. Maybe they realized they looked helpless in that moment and their pride shooed me away. But now when I see a stranger in need, I see it as an opportunity to serve them and they are most glad to be my master in that moment. Daniel and I began to use the phrase in our family as a way to set an example to our children of what serving others should look like. I have noticed Bernadette reacts differently when I use the term "serve" and when I use "help." In a moment of frustration I'm more able to break down walls if I ask to "serve" her rather than "help" her in her frustrated endeavors. And I know when Daniel comes home and dinner is all over my apron and I have a fussy baby in one arm and a tired toddler wrapped around my leg, I feel like a queen when he scoops our baby into his arms and asks how he can serve me. I just think everyone should feel what it would be like to be St. Peter having Our Lord wash his feet.
"I Honor You" This is just our way of complimenting people. When we spot virtue in action we are quick to say things like, "Hey! I really honor you for the way you showed kindness to your brother when you gave him the last strawberry." I use this line a lot for complimenting people in our community as well as my dearest loved ones. It's a simple way to pay our respects and give people a boost.
"As You Wish" This comes from The Princess Bride. What?! You haven't seen that movie?! Get thee to the nearest Blockbuster! Make haste! In the movie a poor peasant replies to his love's requests by saying "As you wish". And everyone who has seen the movie knows that what he's really saying is, "I love you." Sigh. Great movie! Recently I decided to start saying that line anytime one of my loved ones has a request. I've only just begun so it's too early to know the impact this statement will have, but I was encouraged when, after saying the line to Bernadette a few times, she said, "Wow! I feel like you're my servant." Exactly.
Does your family have a love lexicon? I'd love to hear about it so please tell me about the simple ways your family says, "I love you."