Editor's note: More kids than ever before are dealing with anxiety and depression. It can be confusing to fight for mental and emotional health as a believer, especially for our kids. Enjoy this except from Justine Froelker's book 100 Devotions for Kids Dealing with Anxiety and be sure to share it with a young friend.
What you say can mean life or death. Those who speak with care will be rewarded. — Proverbs 18:21 NCV
Words are powerful.
If we believe the Word of God, we know that the tongue can bring life or death. If we listen to our parental figures, we know that certain words aren’t allowed in our homes. If we listen to therapists, we know that our language can change everything. The words we choose to put after I am are very powerful. They are the difference between hard days and brighter days. They can fuel our anxiety, or they can help us cope with our anxiety. We have also talked about self-compassion and how to talk to ourselves the way we’d talk to someone we love.
Another shift in language that has helped me is to name what I am struggling with.
- How often do we say something like, “I’m bad at _________.”
I am sure you’ve even heard adults in your life say it. Today I want you to shift that language to, “I struggle with _______.” Then if you want to take it even further, end it with, “I am doing _________ to improve.” When we shift our language, we empower ourselves to make changes that move us forward in our healing.
What is the last thing you said you were bad at? Rewrite that into an “I struggle with” statement followed by what you are learning and doing to improve.
I struggle with _______________________________________________. I am doing ____________________________________________to improve.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. — Proverbs 16:24 ESV
How do you talk to yourself? Do you use kind words filled with grace? Oftentimes, when I ask people of all ages this question, the quick response is no! My follow-up question is, “Would you speak to someone you love the way you speak to yourself? Would you talk to your parents, siblings, and best friends the way you talk to yourself?”
When you are struggling with anxiety, it can feel really hard to not shame, judge, blame, criticize, and berate yourself. Here’s the thing though: just like today’s verse says, all the yelling and shaming you do to yourself is only making your anxiety worse. All the self-inflicted yelling and shaming does not make you a better person or create improvement. Change can’t happen in shame and judgment because shame and judgment are disconnection. Change and healing only happen in connection — even connection with ourselves. This, my friend, is called self-compassion.
- Self-compassion means speaking to yourself the way you would speak to someone you love.
When speaking, you choose words that are sweet as honey because they will bring healing to hearts, souls, and bodies.
Think of someone you really care about who is going through a tough time right now. Write a short letter of support to them, just a couple of sentences. Now copy those sentences onto the lines below, address it to yourself, and read it. This is self-compassion. How does it feel?
Excerpted with permission from 100 Devotions for Kids Dealing with Anxiety by Justine Froelker, copyright Zondervan.
* * *
Are you good at showing self-compassion? How do you think Jesus speaks to you? Would He agree with the words you use toward yourself? What would happen internally if you stopped saying, “I’m bad at…” and said, “I struggle with…” instead? Come share with us. ~ Devotionals Daily