I love words. The most prominent artwork in my home is beautifully poetic words, hung from room to room, reminding us of our truths. The words in this photo hang over the crib in the nursery. A piece from one of my favorite artists, House of Belonging, that captures my hopes and my dreams for my babies.
I believe in the power of words. The words we speak to ourselves, matter. The words we speak to others, matter. Words have the power to call into being. Our words call forth potential and possibility. Words have the power to make people feel seen and known. Our words hold belief for what could be.
I have never felt this so powerfully as I do while raising little ones. The things I say about myself, they hear it. The things I say about other people, they hear it. The things I say about them, they hear it. These words, they have the power to transform their lives.
One of my little guys was having a hard time sleeping through the night when he was three. I expect babies to wake in the night but I was quite annoyed when my toddler was the one crying. He was up in the middle of the night about six times, on average. He would awake in the night and call for me. I knew I needed to go to him every time he called. This was even before any of my trauma training, but I knew in my gut that crying it out, or any other self-soothing strategy was not an option. He was calling for me because he needed me. When I got to him, it wasn’t clear what he needed because it was a quick reassurance and he was back to sleep. It wasn’t long after I got resettled in my bed and back to sleep that he would call again, “Mom!”. At first it was alarming but as the days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, I began to grow weary. I was so tired. And I couldn’t understand why he was waking so often.
I had started discussing this with our chiropractor, in hopes that an adjustment would do the trick and all of a sudden we would have a sleeping toddler again. But it wasn’t working that way. Every time we would go in for a visit, Dr. Jim would ask, “How is his sleep?” I would look at him, with weary eyes, and say, “It’s still not good.” And every time he would look back at me, with confidence in his eyes, and remind me that I’m doing the right things and to stay the course. It was the pep talk I needed week after week. His words of encouragement, filled with belief, were what I needed to remind me that I was on the right track.
I was in for our normal bi-weekly visit and we were discussing sleep, per usual, and as he was adjusting my sweet boy, in his tender, caring, only-Dr-Jim-way, he looked right at him and said, “do you know you’re safe?”. The little three year old eyes that stared back didn’t look so sure about the answer to that question. And at that moment it was like we saw into his soul for just a second. All of a sudden I was filled with so much compassion and understanding. My little guy didn’t feel safe at night. He called out for his mama because he needed to be reassured that he was safe. From then on, the plan was, every night, before he went to sleep, to speak words that reassure him he is safe. Bedtime sounded something like this, “Buddy, you’re safe. Mom and dad love you so much. We will always love you, no matter what. We will always be your mom and dad. We will always be a family. You are in the right place, at the right time. You are safe.” For a kiddo who knows abandonment at his core, speaking these words was like speaking life into him. They were combating another message that his subconscious holds on to. He needed to hear these words. He needed to be reminded night after night. We started speaking this truth every single night, before bedtime, and it wasn’t long before he was sleeping through the night again.
I don’t know if you have a kiddo who needs to hear that they are safe or if it’s a different message, but whatever it is, I encourage you speak it over them. Find the words their soul needs to hear and never stop saying them. Sometimes I will go into my kids bedrooms after they are asleep and whisper these words to them still. While their conscious mind may be asleep, I believe their subconscious hears me. And I pray, in those moments, the seeds of affirmation and truth take root, and grow deep down, to the core of who they are. I pray that they would live and lead out of this message of truth all the days of their lives.
What are the things you want to call forth in your kids? Have you spoken those words over them today?
You might try reminding them that they are kind, and they are smart, and they are fun, and they are creative, and they are caring, and they are honest, and they are over-comers, and they are brave, and they are strong.
They might just become a little bit more if they know you see these qualities in them.
What are the things you believe about your kids? Have you spoken those things over them today?
Do they know they are loved and chosen and cherished and valued and known and believed in and enough, just as they are?
Maybe you need to begin by examining yourself? What do you believe to be true about yourself? What are the messages you have been told your whole life? Are they true? What beliefs do you need to uproot? What seeds of life do you need to replant?