We have a knight living in our home. He’s big, strong, noble and inspiring. Our knight wears shining armor, he loves Jesus and he guides us in the way we should go. He has spectacular ideas, he works hard to feed and clothe us, and he’s our hero.
My boys and I are blessed to be served and loved by so noble a character. Yet we don’t live in a castle, there’s no moat, and this isn’t a fairy tale. I actually live in the suburbs on the edge of a metropolis. We have tulips in our front yard, along with our fair share of weeds. My husband is wonderful, but very human.
Years ago, I decided my spouse would be our hero. People have a way of living up to your expectations, and the last thing I wanted to do was to tear down my mate. I wanted to be married to a noble, kind, loving man. I wanted my children to respect and adore their father.
I decided to praise my husband for all I was worth. At first, I felt really self-conscious. My brand of funny was cutting, sarcastic and insightful. Some might call it ‘dry wit’. I amused myself greatly.
To begin a campaign of verbal praise was somewhat uncomfortable.
At first, I practiced praising in secret. Later, during lunch with the kids, I would throw out one-liners about some great character quality my spouse possessed. The children always smiled or laughed. After all, they already knew Daddy was a knight in shining armor. Praising my husband became a fun game. When he came home from work, I would yell, “Daddy’s home! He’s our hero!” The boys would charge the door like Christmas was on the other side. Eventually, I began to praise my husband – to the kids – in front of him.
Here’s the weird part: my husband changed. He was already a great guy, but he became far gentler, kinder and more thoughtful. I’m not really sure if the change was in him, or if it was in me. Perhaps my perception changed. I suspect my heart is softer, kinder, more loving. When I speak well of him, I love my husband just a little bit more.
I know that when the Holy Spirit moves in a family, He leaves a noticeable change. Perhaps my husband and I matured in Christ together – at the same time. Perhaps part of that maturation – for me – was to master my tongue.
One thing is certain; my kids love their daddy. He is truly their hero. Because of that, they desire to please and obey him.
I didn’t start praising my husband so that my kids would obey. I didn’t begin to complement him publicly because I thought he would rise to the challenge of some checklist of character traits that I came up with.
I spoke well of my husband because our tongue is a powerful tool. With it, we can build our homes or set our lives aflame. Had I known how wonderful the results of a lifestyle of speaking well of my husband would be, I would have done so louder, sooner and more often.
How do you speak about your husband? How do you talk about your children? Would you be embarrassed if your words were broadcast?
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is a freelance children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr., Pockets, Devozine, Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey and in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.