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Training the tongue

“The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” Proverbs 18:4

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21

“…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks…I tell you, on the day of judgement people will give account for every careless word the speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34, 36-37

More careless words. This instance, something I spoke innocently enough and in no way meant to offend anyone has left someone hurt. It happens, sadly, too often for me to write it off as the other person being too sensitive. Perhaps, in some cases, this may prove true. Perhaps in some cases the offended party may be unrightfully offended due to their own sensitivity, or conscience, or (dare I say) conviction. However, given my ever increasing track record of offenses, I must begin to look inward. I must learn to train my tongue.

It is never my intent to hurt someone (especially a friend) with my careless words. In fact, I try very hard to choose my words wisely before speaking them, but this doesn’t mean I always keep my tongue in check. I’m not prone to shooting my mouth off, in fact more than anything you will have to wrestle words out of me in a moment of anger or frustration than get me to keep my mouth shut.

The Lord is teaching me to be aware of not only what I say, but the tone with which I speak as well. As a child, and later into my teens, one oft repeated lecture from my mother was to watch my tone. In my experience, tone, more than words is the real truth to what we say. I have uttered many an apology that sounded less like “I’m sorry,” and more like something unutterable. I don’t know a single person who isn’t guilty of this same scenario. Anyone who has gone through childhood (and this should include everyone) has been forced a time or two to offer a (less than) sincere apology to an offended playmate or sibling.

More than minding my tone, or even minding my words, is being mindful of my brothers and sisters. What are they struggling with? What is important to them? What area of their lives do they put forth a lot of effort into? What is an area of sensitivity? Often my carelessness has come from unintentionally undermining the hard work or mindfulness of a friend.

Words, or rather words of affirmation, is not my strong suit. If I’m honest, they don’t even rank on my scale. My husband and I had to address this early on because words of affirmation are for him high ranking on his scale. You can see how this could cause a lot of problems. I learned very quickly that even withholding recognition or praise or gratitude was the same as criticizing. This was not true for me, but he needed to hear the words. It is something I must continually work on because it doesn’t occur naturally to me. There are days when I fall short; there are times when exhaustion or frustration takes the upper hand and words and tone go unchecked. And my wonderful husband, the sweet man that he is, learns a little more patience, and probably develops a little tougher skin out of necessity (sorry Dane).

I’m a work in progress. I won’t (and don’t) always get it right, but I think being aware is a big step forward. Lord, help me to train my tongue, that the words of my mouth would not be offensive or careless, but be edifying to you and to others.

“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

 

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