Ouch. My daughter’s words cut deep into my heart. I was failing. Not in everything, but in this one thing. The conversation at the dinner table halted as I processed this information.

“It’s just that sometimes I talk to you and you’re looking at your phone and you don’t even acknowledge me.”

My first response was to defend. It’s my job to support and encourage the people on the other end of that phone, Jo.

My second response was to deflect. Dad pulls out his phone while we’re eating and you never get down on him.

Luckily, I waited to open my mouth until my brain got to my third response. Concede. She was right. It was hard to hear, but she was right.

At what point did it become more important to nurture the world instead of my own family?

I have to admit, there’s a whole lot I do on my phone that has nothing to do with spreading the message of kindness. It’s escapism. Or busywork.

Jordan could tell my feelings were hurt as I apologized and promised to curb my iPhone enthusiasm. She started to back-track. “It’s okay, Mom. I shouldn’t have said anything. It’s your job to be online.”

And here is where the most beautiful conversation rose up out of the ashes. I got to explain to my 12 year old the difference between being convicted and being condemned.

When a friend, family member, or the mean girl at middle school says something that hurts, hold it up in the air. Before you react, put it out at arm’s length and examine it.

Was it said out of hate or jealousy or anger? Or was it said out of love?

Then ask yourself, is there any truth in these words? Do I need to own them or brush them off? Is there an element that could make me a better person– not necessarily in the eyes of people, but in the eyes of God?

Condemnation is the icky feeling you get when someone tells you something out of hate or hurt or jealousy or anger. When you hold it up to the light, it doesn’t quite make sense. You don’t see the truth in what that person is saying and it certainly doesn’t stand up next to what God says about you.

Conviction can initially bring on that icky feeling, but when you consider the source, you realize the words come from a place of love. The other person is pointing out something that is hard to hear but will help you grow.

I’ve come to love conviction. It’s a powerful tool the Holy Spirit uses to continue to mold us into the people God intended us to be.

I wish my younger self would have understood the difference between condemnation and conviction. I’ve spent my life in a tiny limelight. I was Miss Wisconsin, then a television newscaster, then a coach’s wife, then a speaker. When people criticized my looks or my work or my beliefs, that moment of pause would have saved me a lot of heartache. Just because people say hurtful things doesn’t mean I have to accept them. That’s condemnation.

…Until they come from your truth-telling, momma-loving little girl. Then you’re immediately convicted to stop scrolling and start some good, old fashioned face time.