What we say and how we say it

| Ginny Kubitz Moyer | May 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

My mom has always been an exclaimer. When she sees a beautiful flower, she immediately voices her delight, punctuated with an almost audible exclamation point. “Look at that rose!” she’ll gush, bending in for a sniff. “Gorgeous!”

My dad is also quick to share his enthusiasm for awe-inspiring things. I remember car trips as a teenager when he would play and replay his favorite song from “Les Misérables,” exclaiming at the singer’s ability to hit and sustain a high note. “Listen to that! Amazing!” he’d say every time.

These memories make me smile. They also invite some personal reflection: Now that I’m an adult myself, what inspires me to speak in exclamation points?

To be honest, it’s not always the good things. I often use exclamation points to express my frustration with fellow drivers. (“That wasn’t even close to a stop, Buddy!”) Occasionally, I use them when complaining to my husband about annoyances at work. (When the fire alarm is accidentally triggered for the third time in a month, you simply can’t punctuate that story with a period.)

But there are two little boys who hear most of what I say, which is a good reminder to think about whether I’m spending more energy complaining or celebrating. Kids may not seem to be listening to what we say, but they are. The things that get us excited often become the things that get them excited — both the good and the bad.

Excitement for my faith

As parents, we have a unique power: the power to pass on our enthusiasm for awe-inspiring, beautiful things. We can help our children see which things in life are worth our energy and our attention, both in what we choose to say and in how we say it.

I try not to take this power for granted. Just as my mom did, I frequently exclaim over the colors of a rose or the scent of lavender. In the car with my boys, I point out the deer grazing on the grass or the impressive bank of fog creeping over the hills. I sometimes show my kids video clips of great dancers, and I see wonder creep into their eyes: Wow, that really is cool.

These days, I’m trying to vocalize my enthusiasm for my faith, too. After some lapsed years in my 20s, I now love being Catholic, but do my kids know that?

Do they know that I get a thrill from the sight of sun coming through the jewel-tones of stained glass?

Do they know that I’m a huge fan of the saints, all those women and men who showed us so many different ways to live a life of meaning?

Do they know that I’ve finally realized that Mass isn’t boring, but a chance to have a close encounter with Jesus every single week?

I’m not sure they do, and that’s something I want to change.

Because if there were ever anything worthy of exclamation, it’s this: Jesus shows up every single Sunday, without fail. And he doesn’t show up in some abstract, vague way, but as something we can see and touch and taste. Even with all my pettiness and messiness and faults, he becomes present as bread for me, as if to say that he will connect with me however he possibly can. It’s the central mystery of our faith, and it’s enough food for a lifetime of thought.

So this is my new challenge: to share these ideas with my kids, and to do so with an audible exclamation point. “Jesus makes himself food for us! Every single time! Isn’t that cool?”

They may not fully grasp the words, but they’ll hear my excitement — and that’s a very good start.

Kubitz Moyer is the author of “Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood.” She blogs at http://www.RandomActsofMomness.com.

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Category: Commentary