One of the most fascinating parts of being the mother of a verbal toddler is having a window into Tirzah Mae’s thoughts.
Her internal dialogue is external. She speaks whatever is on her mind.
When she’s debating whether to follow my instructions or not, she repeats my common refrain: “You have a choice” and congratulates herself with my own “good decision.”
And then there are the dogs. Tirzah Mae is terrified by dogs – and our next door neighbor has three or four large ones that bark often.
When Tirzah Mae sees or hears them, she often runs to me in fear pronouncing “Doggie woof-woof!”
I’ll remind her that the doggies are behind the fence, that they can’t hurt her. And I’ll let her hang on to my leg as long as it takes before she resumes whatever she was doing.
But after dozens or hundreds of reminders, Tirzah Mae has started reminding herself. She’ll be outside playing and the dogs will bark. Then I’ll hear her reminding herself “Behind the fence, can’t hurt you.”
Hearing her childlike trust in my pronouncements, hearing how she is constantly reminding herself of the truth that came (originally) from my lips, I am challenged.
I’m challenged because, while I’m not afraid of dogs, there are plenty of other things I’m afraid of. And I debate obedience more often than I care to admit.
Will I respond with the irritation I feel or with the soft answer I know God desires me to use? Will I dwell in the fear-world that says I’ll never have friends in this still-sometimes-strange-seeming-place or will I continue to reach out to people? Will I believe the inner voice that says I deserve [a bath, a plate of nachos, to not be touched for just a few minutes] or will I believe that serving my family is a privilege? Will I let myself be lured into self-pity over not having time to blog or will I trust that God has called me into this time and season and that it is good, even if I’m not blogging all about it?
Tirzah Mae’s internal dialogues spoken out loud challenge me to reframe my own internal dialogues.
Instead of running over my own words again and again and again, I would do better to repeat my Father’s words. He is trustworthy.
I need to remind myself of the truth of God’s word.
When I want to respond with irritation, I can remind myself of God’s patience with me. I can remind myself that I want my words to “bring grace to all that hear” (Eph 4:29). When I feel alone, I can remind myself that Jesus was rejected by those he came to serve – and I can remind myself that I have been given the “Helper, to be with [me] forever” (John 14:16). When I want to tell myself that I deserve my own comfort, I can remind myself of Christ who “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:6-7). When I am tempted to self pity, I can remember that “for those who love God all things work together for good” that I might be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom 8:28-29).
Like Tirzah Mae, I can repeat my Father’s words, reframing my internal dialogues to conform to the truth as He has revealed it.
Lord, help me to do so, day by day.