Last Thursday, in part 7 we looked at the third element of the blessing by exploring two ways to convey words of high value to our children. The first is to find everyday objects to capture a character trait or physical attribute, such as the nickname “little man” I gave my son, Lawrence, for his small stature (until he hit age 14 and suddenly shot up past his father). And the second is to match the emotional meaning of the trait you are praising with the object you’ve picked. I used daughter’s name of Megan and associated it with the nutmeg spice (see Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Part 7).
Today we will use the third way that authors John Trent and Gary Smalley in The Blessing describe to convey words of high value to our children. They call this “Using Word Pictures That Unravel Defenses.” Sometimes we see this as some sort of insecurity.
Use Word Pictures to Bring Down Barricades
When people put up a wall to hide behind their particular insecurity, we have to be creative so our words will actually mean something to our children. The authors of The Blessing, Trent and Smalley, use the example of the Shulamite woman in chapter 1 of Song of Solomon.
She worked in the vineyards during the day and the hot sun tanned her skin.1 Her dark complexion wasn’t desired by most men of her day. The fair and soft skin of the city girls was considered more desirable. She says, “Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has gazed on me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards…” (Song of Solomon 1:6 nrsv). Here, our Shulamite woman was putting herself down, saying she didn’t possess external beauty and asked the king not to even look at her. She felt insecure because she didn’t look like the women in Jerusalem. But, if you read Song of Solomon you’ll see that the girl’s image of herself changes. Just flip over to Chapter 2, verse 1, and she now describes herself as “the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” What changed?
Solomon used word pictures that conveyed high value to her as a way to break down her insecurity over her looks. He wanted her to know that even with her dark skin, he valued her anyway. He even liked her tanned skin! He did this enough that with each declaration of her value to him through the word picture associated with beauty, he expunged any traces of lingering negative self-talk (her defense). Just look at how she felt about herself after they were married. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:1).
This is just one example for insecurity, but it can work for other defenses our children might put up. The point is most people appreciate the association of word pictures as they tend to linger in our hearts and brain longer. Jesus knew this, too, as he used word pictures to “communicate both praise and condemnation through his teachings and his parables.”2 Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepard over His sheep, the Light of the World, and the Bread of Life. And He wrote with His finger in the sand in John 8. The Bible doesn’t say what He wrote or drew with His fingers, but perhaps He spelled out forgiveness in the sand because the scribes and Pharisees had just brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. Now that would of been a word picture the Pharisees wouldn’t soon forget!
Words of high value that combine the use of images are what unlock hearts of unbelief, doubt, distrust, or skepticism. Jesus was unconventional; He thought outside the box and His teachings and ways did more for people then just speaking from a street corner.
What ways can you think of using an image to attach high value to your children. We will cover the final way to attach high value to our words on Wednesday. If you have used these ways to convey high value to your children, I would enjoy reading your story.
1 Bible Note for Song of Solomon 1:6, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).
2 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 109.