Thoughts About Red Pens

I started using red pens to grade the girls school work this year. I bought them impulsively on a quick supply trip the day before we started our homeschool year. I had always avoided using them before, but for some reason I thought they might help to make things easier, especially with two students. The first day of class while grading Marissa’s math I pulled out a pen and put a red X by an answer she had missed.

Then I just sat there and stared at it.
I hate red pens.

I have always hated red pens. It began when I was a kindergartener who was sent home with a red sad face drawn on her paper. I cried in the car of the school parking lot and begged my mom to go inside and make the teacher change it. Something inside me cringed over the failure the red pen highlighted.

As I added more red X’s on Marissa’s paper, memories and thoughts flooded my brain. I wondered how she would feel about my red pen. Would she eye roll the marks it left, groan at the sight of them, would she ever hide it from me when I left the room, and cry over her schoolwork?

Then my thoughts went deeper…
I began to wonder how marks left by a red pen would make her feel about herself.

How a red pen reminded me of the power of words
The world is full of red pens and people who use them recklessly. Countless times every single day we are given the chance to leave our mark. We can label failures, criticize choices, or put giant x’s across the things we don’t like about someone. We can shake confidence, make someone doubt self-worth, and beat them down with our words, attitudes, and actions.The mark we leave on the lives of others is overwhelming.

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.
Proverbs 18:21 The Message

This, this is something I struggle with. Some days frustrations get the best of me and without thinking I find myself spinning out of control. Saying things I can’t take back, leaving marks that won’t erase and causing pain that is so familiar to me, in the life of another. Often my girls fall victim to the momster I become.

I want my words to speak life. 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:26

These verses are the prayers and the meditation of my heart.
It is an ongoing, every moment battle to be aware of the life or death that is coming from my mouth.
But it is one worth fighting for.

What comes from your mouth when you speak?
Life or death?

What marks are you leaving?
Ones that build up or ones that destroy?

What is one step you can take to change?
Today make your mouth a fountain of life.

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Do you struggle with mom anger? 
I want to encourage you to check out this book, Count to Nine: Nine Liberating Steps for Mom Frustration and Anger. It has been a life changing tool for me and I know so many of you would greatly benefit too.

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