By Emily Cook
Sometimes, serving one’s neighbor means doing things out loud.
I remember, before children, when I would make dinner in silence. I just did what had to be done, and I didn’t explain myself to anyone. Now, when I make dinner, I prattle on and on:
“Move, honey, so mama can get the pot out. Look, I’m filling it up with water. We will wait for it to boil, then we’ll add the yummy pasta. Do you want to watch me cut the carrots? Maybe you can help me put them on the plate when I’m done. One, two, three, four carrots. Yum, carrots. Should we cut some apples, too?”
Words pour out of us when children are around because we sense their eagerness. They take in everything, sucking it all up like language-hungry vacuums, and so we keep pouring out, words, words everywhere. Then, they crash in the sweetest drooling baby naps, while underneath the sweaty curls, brains organize and process all the information. And before we know it, they’ve stopped trying to lick the spatula and are using complete sentences to tell us how to properly flip a pancake.
With our words we color their perception of the world around them, allowing them to label, and organize, and remember. With our spelled-out actions, we help them learn to predict and expect certain things in their world. With our words, we paint habits into their tiny hearts.
Narrator-mothers of the world, do not forget to speak boldly of the things of faith. Do not underestimate the power of those words as they pour out like rain into your family garden. Tell the story to the child on your hip, the one about why mommy is carrying the mail out to the box and where the letters go from there. But also, tell that child on your hip why you paused when you heard the police sirens, and speak the prayer for safety for your husband that you just said in your heart. So, you’re a silent prayer. I was too, before kids. I was a silent hair-brusher and laundry-starter and weed-puller, too. But now, I am a Narrator.
Say a few words out loud when you are in awe of the sunrise, frustrated by a traffic jam, or cooled by a lovely breeze. When you’re horrified over your own lack of patience, pray aloud for help. When the words of the liturgy pop into your head out of context, or the Spirit brings to mind a verse from family devotions last week, speak it aloud. When the nightly news horror-show makes you long for heaven, don’t keep your “Come Lord Jesus” to yourself every time. When you lift your eyes to the hills, remembering where your help comes from, keep that child by your side, and direct his eyes there, too.
Not all bold words are speeches. Boldness shows up in playrooms, parks, and even public bathrooms, as faithful Mother Narrators all over the world proclaim Our Lord to the next generation. The words are simple, the delivery, unrehearsed, and the audience, mere babes, but the bold proclamation of the work of the Lord continues even to this day in parks and playrooms all over the world as mothers speak the tiny words of a big Savior:
“Look at that duck that God made!”
“Thanks Jesus for this beautiful day!”
“God is so creative!”
“Thank you God for making me a mommy.”
“Jesus help Junior’s knee feel better.”
“Please keep Junior safe on the monkey bars!”
“God give me patience!”
“God please help the firemen/police/etc and whoever needs help right now.”
“Lord have mercy. Please bring good out of evil.”
“Come Lord Jesus.”
“You’re forgiven, in the name of Jesus.”
“May the Lord bless and keep you.”
What are some of your favorite words of big faith for small ears?