What does your body language say?
I love watching a caring mom soothe a crying baby. I also love seeing a dad bear-hug his teenage son. I adore seeing a grandpa hold the hand of a toddler learning his way around a backyard. These are examples of “actions speaking louder than words.” Without the use of words, our bodies can convey every emotion, can’t they? With a raised eyebrow, we say, “Are you sure?” With cross arms we say, “I’m not happy about that?” With the tap of a foot, we say, “I’m ready. Let’s go.” Yes, our body language speaks volumes to everyone around us.
Here is a Biblical truth found in Ephesians 5. “Figure out what will please Christ, then do it.” Have you ever spent the day watching yourself? I mean deliberately watching your body language. I’ve watched other peoples, but I must admit, I’ve ignored my own when I don’t need to. If we take Ephesians 5 seriously, we would figure out what pleases Christ, even with our body language, and do that thing. I might suggest that we all, me included, take a day and watch ourselves all day just to see what our body language is saying to those we encounter in all areas of our life. In doing this, we can be more alert to the reactions we get from our family and friends. Those reactions are good indicators of whether we’re sending the signals we really want to send.
Sometimes stern body language can be useful–like during a long Sunday sermon when a “look” and snap are your only recourse for wiggly children or grandchildren. But there are other times when you might discover yourself using an angry look or gesture or the silent treatment when it’s not necessary. I know this is true for me. Many times, my mind is on the other million things I must do, and when interrupted, my body language shows annoyance instead of acceptance. It’s easy to get frustrated over little things in the minute to minute flow of life, not to mention the harder issues everyone deals with.
This year has been a tough year, to say the least. We weathered the first wave of covid and thought we were past it, but it seems to be rearing its ugly head again. And, school is right around the corner adding to our frustration that we haven’t returned “normal.” We’ll all tired of it and the thought of going back to mask is enough to make us all cry, “UNCLE! WE GIVE UP.”
But, God is good all the time, right? And all the time God is good. Whether it’s a moment of frustration or an entire year and a half, that constant reminder of God’s goodness and love for us is essential to causing us to keep our body language in check and floundering around like a ticking time bomb.
So, what can we do? And, again, I’m am talking (or screaming) to me too! I know I have been guilty of rolling my eyes (if not for real, in my brain) or crossing my arms or sighing when I’m impatient with my very patient husband.
First of all, it’s good to search our heart and ask, “Am I responsible for my frustrations?” Yes, sometimes it’s our fault. We create the mess that’s causing the frustration. In these cases, you have some control over the outcome. Perhaps just taking ownership will help. Admitting you are responsible for the frustration places the cure or the “fix it” in your hands as well and that’s power in itself. An example might be the time my husband left the sunroof open on his car before a big storm hit. He was frustrated and aggravated with his mistake, but it would have been worse had he not realized he messed up and took the steps to solve the problem. He didn’t take out his frustrations on me or the children, but solved the problem the best he could and moved on.
Another way to handle any frustration is to take a step back and see what lessons can be learned. That way we have a hope of not repeating the mistake as well as gaining a personal understanding of what happened to cause it in the first place.
Next, we can be thankful even in the storm of frustrating events. I Thessalonians says, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you.” I love what that verse doesn’t say. It doesn’t just say to be thankful. It lets us know that “giving thanks” is God’s will for us. He knows that a thankful heart is a heart that reacts to others with kindness and love, even when there are frustrating situations happening.
This week might be a good week to search your heart and discover what’s behind the body language you are using and address that concern. That way, you’ll please Christ, your family and yourself.