Several months ago during a Bible Study group we were studying Psalm 90 as a part of the life of Moses. It’s a Psalm that talks about how the days of our lives are numbered and will pass away quickly. It can be a little depressing, but one of the ladies in our group shared how she viewed this passage in a different way regarding being intentional with our days and using them to leave a legacy. She encouraged us to count up the number of days we have left to live if we are blessed to live until we are 80 years old, and then think about how we can impact and influence our families if we were to be intentional with those days.
At almost 35, that gives me approximately 16,485 days left to live. That number seems large to me; that’s a lot of days. What would happen if I strived to do something intentional every single one of those days? How much of an impact could that have on others around me, and on my life as well? Doing one thing every day for 16,000+ days would be pretty significant, I think. It would shape my life, and the legacy I would leave when my days on earth are done.
I believe one of the most powerful tools we have in life is our words. Our words will be remembered by those closest to us long after we are gone, if you have lost a loved one, you know this to be true. I can still hear in my mind my dad’s voice and the words that he spoke to me regularly. His words were a gift to me that have continued to be an anchor and cornerstone of my life even though he’s been gone for 3 1/2 years. And while I wish more than anything that I could continue to hear those words from him every day, I cling to the memory of them like my life depends on it. Because in so many ways, it does.
Our words can be life-giving, life-affirming, life-valuing, and we can speak love and life into the souls of people around us. What an incredible gift and responsibility.
So in thinking about the thousands of days I hopefully have left to live, I thought about the words that I want to speak to my kids. Through these words I hope to extend love, grace, and second chances to my kids in a way that will leave an impact. These are the messages I want them to hear and remember every single day, so they can continue to cling to those words even after I am gone.
4 Things I Want to Say to My Kids Every Day
I love you
Of course, this one has to start off the list. It’s common sense, but I also think it’s so, so important to be intentional about saying this to your kids over and over and over and over. I’m not sure you could ever tell a child, “I love you”, too much. They might get annoyed and roll their eyes and turn away, especially as they get older. But they can still hear you, and it can impact them in way I’m not sure we can even fully understand, to know that they are so loved, unconditionally.
I want my kids to know that I love them NO MATTER WHAT. There is absolutely nothing they could do or become that would change my love for them. Because even in it’s own small and imperfect way, I am reflecting the ultimate Love that God has for them. I wouldn’t want them to ever question God’s love for them because they question my love for them. I truly believe Love is the most important legacy we can leave with our children.
I’m proud of you
This is different than love, because pride speaks to who they are becoming as a person and the decisions they are making along the way. Now, I am not always proud of my kids. They make poor choices and bad decisions that frustrate me in more ways that I can count some days. And I can only imagine how this may even increase as they get older and gain more and more independence.
Even so, I strive to find one thing to tell them I am proud of them about every single day. I want them to know and feel that I see them, I see the good decisions and wise choices they are making, even in the midst of the bad. And my hope is that I can continue to encourage those good decisions more and more through the positive reinforcement of knowing their mom is proud of them. I want my kids to learn to trust themselves to make good and wise choices and to carry that trust with them as they grow up and move out from under the protection of our guidance.
I’m sorry, will you forgive me?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I make mistakes as a parent every single day. In my 7 1/2+ years of being a parent I’m pretty sure I have yet to successfully complete a perfect parenting day, much less a perfect parenting hour. I’m guessing I’m not all alone out here on Imperfect Parenting Island.
And so, I tell my children I’m sorry. I have to say it often, and I try to do it as swiftly as possible after making a mistake. I want to model for my children what it means to realize you are in the wrong and to make amends for that wrong. I think it is extremely important for children to hear “I’m sorry” from their parents.
We model for them the humbleness of admitting when we are wrong, the understanding that we are not perfect, the acknowledgement that we can hurt others with our words and actions, and taking responsibility for those words and actions in order to repair relationships. These are life skills that are only truly taught by example.
I forgive you
And then, on the other hand, we do teach our kids to not just say they are sorry when they have hurt or wronged someone else, but to also ask for forgiveness. And so I am very intentional about looking them in the eyes and saying, “Yes, I forgive you,” right away when they apologize and ask for my forgiveness.
As with forgiveness, I believe we model for our children the grace and forgiveness we receive through Jesus. As freely as grace has been given to me, I will pass that grace right on to my children so they can know and feel the importance of forgiveness.
And so, I will say these simple, but powerful, words to my kids as often as I can. Every day, hopefully. I may not be able to say each of these things to them every day as they get older and move away from home. But while they are young, and still living in my home, I will strive to build into them this legacy of love, pride, forgiveness and grace.
My oldest is almost 8, so she has about 10 years, or 3,650 days left at home. May we measure those days and the legacy we can leave through the impact of small, intentional words spoken every single day. Together they become a river full of love and grace whose current can influence the direction of our children’s lives.
How many days do your kids have left at home? How can you be intentional to speak words every day that will leave a legacy for them?