I pulled into our neighborhood pool, parked, and glanced up. A few clouds dotted the evening sky, harmless remnants from an afternoon thunderstorm that had blown through Tampa Bay. The rumbling, lightning-forked thunderheads were now long gone. With two rambunctious boys in the backseat, I hoped we would be able to swim.
I tried not to think of last summer and the few times we came to swim, only to have the pool attendant shake his head and point to the sky.
Thunder. Lightning. Pool’s closed this evening.
As a former lifeguard and swimmer, concerned mom, and weather nerd, I’m fairly able to gauge the general proximity of a storm and when to throw in the towel and head inside for safety’s sake. Since the skies were obviously clear, I had been baffled by the young man’s decision to close the pool. And on a couple occasions, my frustration at the “pool is closed” verdict overrode the Holy Spirit’s hold on my tongue.
I remember the thunderous words that rumbled out of my mouth at the pool attendant. Marching back to our truck with two boys in tow, the snarky comments had dropped off my tongue like pounding raindrops.
“Oh gee, there’s a storm in Miami so he doesn’t want us to swim. He probably just doesn’t want to deal with people at the pool. We pay for that pool….” Rant, grumble. Not proud parenting moments, to say the least.
Fast forward to present day. Behind me in the car, an unwelcome echo sounded.
“There’s probably thunder and lightning in Miami so that guy won’t let us swim again.”
I jerked in surprise at the sarcastic sentence coming from one of my sons. Obviously he remembered my comments from last summer. The Holy Spirit barely had to tap on my heart that evening as we made our way to the pool deck. While the boys splashed and swam, I tried not to drown in a pool of regret over the critical words from last year.
Later, it gave me a good opportunity to discuss with my boys why I regretted using those words last year.
James rightly reminded us that “…the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (James 3:5, NKJV) My tongue had ignited a fire of disrespectful sparks that my boys had remembered and echoed back.
Parenting is a tough gig. Each and every day we need Jesus to help us love others – especially when we don’t feel like it. The pool situation reminded me how closely our children shadow our steps and hang on our words.
It also reminded me how blessed we are as Christians that we can dip into the pool of God’s overflowing grace and drink of His new mercies each day.
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life…”
– Proverbs 15:4 (KJB)
“Heavenly Father, You gave us our tongues to praise You and love and encourage others. Remind us by Your Word to bless and not harm others with our words…”
A Lamp, a Light, and a Writer