“You’re being a clanging cymbal.”
This is our new family phrase.
As part of the research for my free Guide to a Vibrant Family Faith, I challenged our family to try verse mapping together. When you “map” a verse, you define words simply, circle words and phrases that stand out to you, and personalize the verse by crossing out any pronouns and adding your name.
(If you haven’t tried verse mapping, it’s very cool—it forces you to consider how the verse applies to you.)
One of the verses we chose was I Corinthians 13:1…
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
As a public speaker, I love this verse. I know that the women in the audience need to feel how much I love them—how much I’m rooting for them to learn and grow and live in Christ’s abundance! If I give the “perfect” talk from a heart of self-importance or pride, it means nothing. This verse inspires me to speak (and write) everything with love.
The I Corinthians 13 “love verses” are a classic choice for personalizing (Shannon is patient, Shannon is kind…), but I’d never tried personalizing the first verse, especially not as it relates to our whole family. As we sat at our kitchen table, we were momentarily stumped as to how to apply it to our family life.
Here’s how we mapped it:
Essentially this: “If we speak in beautiful words but have not love, we’re only making noise.”
The kids really got it when I put it this way:
There’s a huge difference between kindly saying, “I need some alone time—would you please leave my room?” and unkindly saying, “I need some ALONE time—would you PLEASE LEAVE MY ROOM?” The words are the same—but the sounds are the difference between a clanging cymbal and spoken love.
My kids know all the right the words. I frequently hear things like, “Would you please STOP that?” and “I need you to STOP TOUCHING ME NOW.” The words are good—direct, assertive, and yet respectful—but the tones are terrible. The Uptons don’t talk to each other that way! (At least they shouldn’t.)
Now when I hear those tones, instead of saying (in an equally frustrated voice), “Don’t talk to your brother/sister that way!” I’m saying this:
“You’re being a clanging cymbal. Feel the love. Try again.”
“You’re being a clanging cymbal” = your tone is terrible.
“Feel the love” = we love each other here, remember?
“Try again” = fix the damage you just did.
I am loving this—and it’s actually working! I don’t know why I’m surprised. God’s Word is so powerful, transformative in so many ways.
Take the Challenge: Try this for a few days. Try it with your kids. And try it with yourself when you get frustrated or angry: I’m being a clanging cymbal. Feel the love. Try again.
I’ll be trying it again, too.
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