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It’s All About the Touch… and Tone

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” Galatians 5:22-23 (The Message)


A few months ago I attended our church’s Awana award’s ceremony.  This is the night when all the kids’ hard work culminates and they receive awards depending upon how much work they put in all year long. I helped lead a “team” throughout the year, so while sitting with my own little charges around me, I enjoyed watching all the other leaders congratulate their kids.  In addition to words of encouragement spoken, more often than not it was accompanied by physical touch.  Big hugs for the preschoolers, side hugs or high fives for the middle age kids and fist bumps and high fives for the older kids.  Each according to the comfort level of the child, all very appropriate.

Two days later, on what I thought was a typical morning, our family was scrambling around to get ready for school.  In the usual chaos I guess I was more “harsh” than usual because one of my children got upset and accused me of “yelling” all morning and then cited several examples of when those injustices occurred. I remembered each of those examples clearly but I didn’t think I had even raised my voice except to be heard over the chaos, certainly not to be “mean.”

However, does it really matter how I perceived it?  Or does it matter more what was spoken to my child’s heart?  I immediately gathered our child in my arms, apologized for what sounded mean, explained it wasn’t meant that way and made sure my body language and tone reflected my true feelings this time around.

The very next day I was listening to the radio and caught the tail end of a conversation.  The host was stating how a person’s body language was just as important to the conversation as the words that were said.  I couldn’t agree more.  I had to stop and think, “What message do I send to people when we’re talking – whether it’s family, friends, co-workers or strangers?”

That particular week I made a special point to add more physical touch into my repertoire with my family.  All of my family… even the teenagers who might not ask for it as much.  I want my husband and my kids to know unequivocally how much they are loved and valued just because they are “them.”  I was glad for the chance to sit and observe at the Awana award’s night that week… and to let it soften my heart and remind me that everyone, no matter how young or old, can benefit from appropriate loving physical touch as well as the right tone of voice daily.


© Cheri Swalwell 2017

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