Broken Straws

Proverbs 15:4

A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.

Several months ago, my wife and I were at one of our favorite restaurants to get an afternoon snack and some iced tea. When you live in Phoenix, iced beverages are necessary to surviving the summer.

Apparently a mother and her 3-4 year old daughter had the same idea as us and sat in the booth directly behind me. What happened next disturbed and upset us both. Because of our seating arrangement, my wife was able to see what happened but I could only listen.

I open straws by ripping off the one end of the paper and pulling off the other end. My wife, on the other hand, is a table tapper. She taps the straw on the table or counter until it pops through the paper. The little daughter at the table next to us was a table tapper. Now table tappers run the risk of accidentally splitting their straw and rendering it useless. Unfortunately for this little girl, this is exactly what happened.

The mother’s response was disgusting. She spoke in a slightly raised tone but I could tell just by listening that her attention was split between her daughter and looking at her phone. She said something very close to this: “OH. MY. GAWD. I’m so disappointed. I cannot believe that you did this. Like, I’m just so, ahhh, disappointed. Like seriously? Why?”  It continued like this for another sentence or two until it got to the point where if she kept going, I was going to turn around and intervene but the mother stopped.

This mother communicated extreme disappointed, displeasure, and flat out scorn toward her 3 or 4 year old daughter.

She crushed her spirit.

Over a broken straw.

She had the opportunity to speak soothing, life giving words to this precious little one but instead she chose to crush her daughter’s spirit. What do you think is going to happen when this little girl is not so little and makes an actual mistake? I know what she probably won’t do: come to her mother. And her mother will probably feel so crushed and hurt and won’t understand why her daughter is so mean and doesn’t love her and won’t confide in her. I hope none of this does happen but if it does, it’s because the mother taught her daughter that simple, stupid things disappoint her so much that it’s not safe for the daughter to come to her with an actual problem.

Your tongue is your most powerful weapon. It can create or destroy. Be a life-giving tree or a perverted soul crusher. Pay attention to your words.

ESPECIALLY for the little ones in your life.