There are phrases that have become mantras in my home. There are phrases that are said over and over, every time one of my boys hurts his brother.
Your brother will be your best friend your whole life. Are you treating him like a friend?
There are phrases I say because I need to remember. We all need to remember.
We use our words to love each other.*
We use our hands to love each other.
There are secrets I barely understand and they are coming out of my mouth.
The Lord bless you and keep you…
I am saying over the crib, my fingers marking my son like a priest, my fingers holy.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you…
Every day it’s a liturgy of phrases, truths I pray will stay with a boy who already longs to control everything and every one around him, phrases I pray may stay with the boy who already longs to please, already longs to be accepted by the brother he watches and runs behind.
Every day you grow stronger and braver. Let’s try again tomorrow.**
And every day I’m in the mirror for a moment at least. Long enough to see myself: my hair wadded into a mess of a bun again, my face washed clean but makeup-free. I examine my dark circled mama eyes, these thirty-something wrinkles moving in for their long stay.
I am God’s beloved.
What a thing to whisper to myself. Only grace: to believe such words said over and over.
One Good Phrase made beautiful in repetition.
* * *
Every Wednesday for the next several months, we are embarking on a new series of guest posts called “One Good Phrase.”
Each week we’ll hear from a guest who will examine “One Good Phrase” in their life, whether that phrase is something a parent repeated throughout their childhood, something gleaned through a church community, or something they’ve learned how to speak to themselves or the people in their lives. No matter how the phrase has become a part of them, we’re going to explore how it has formed them.
I can’t wait to share this journey with you, friends. I hope you’ll start thinking about your One Good Phrase, too.
* I first learned this phrase from Sarah Bessey and it immediately became regular part of our daily family liturgy.
** Joanna, a friend in my Mom’s Group, shared this phrase with us a couple of months ago. I love its simplicity and hope.