My birthday is next week. For the last few birthdays, I have focused on a certain theme or character trait to develop in my life over the course of that year.
I remember year 42 was about being courageous, as a nod to Jackie Robinson, who wore that famous number when he had the courage to break through the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
One year it was setting boundaries, another centered on using wisdom in making choices. And over the last year I shifted my attention to living a ministry-focused life. The result was finally finishing the book I had been talking about writing for years. My work was also published in Guideposts magazine and this blog has readers in 31 countries! It’s humbling to know that people in Nepal, Slovenia, Niger, and Lebanon have read my words.
As I prepare for my next revolution around that great big ball of gas we call the Sun, I think I know what the Son wants me to focus on for this chapter of my life.
Last month my friend invited me to do a reading plan titled Living the Surrendered Life on the YouVersion Bible app with over twenty-five other people. It’s a 21-day devotional, and I’m on Day 14 even though we started over 40 days ago.
In my defense, I’m still trying to create a reasonable schedule within this new normal of the girls attending school virtually from home, physical therapy appointments, writing, and a plethora of other mostly virtual activities that pack my schedule.
Balancing that against my regular life of working full time and being a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend among other roles; most days 18 hours is just not enough time to do everything. And yes, I know 6 hours of sleep is not enough. (Adding it to my list as well…)
But nonetheless, I’m making small tweaks to my life, and one day I will finish this plan. Being delayed is rarely a good thing, but in this case, it worked out in my favor, because Day 14 was written specifically for me and couldn’t have come at a better time.
The lesson is all about the words we use. Yes, the very words we choose to utter out of our mouths. I’ve struggled for years with controlling my tongue. A sharp retort, demeaning, hurtful and critical words, and gossip have always been my Achilles’ heel. I’ve worked on them over the years but they can still cause me to stumble some days.
But the tongue no man can tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8 NKJV
That night, I heard my daughter crying in her room. When I went to check in on her, she was courageous enough to share with me some of her struggles, including how my words were impacting her. The words I chose to motivate her for school were having the opposite effect as it was just adding undue pressure on her.
We laid in her bed, both with tears in our eyes. I hated that I wasn’t doing a better job of guarding the words that came out of my mouth. And that I was causing pain to someone I loved so much, when I reacted recklessly, instead of responding thoughtfully.
I needed to do a better job developing kindness and self-control, those two fruits of the spirit that didn’t always come easy to me in the heat of the moment. But more than ever, I need to figure out how to hold my tongue, and not say anything that pops into my head without using a spiritual filter.
Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, that it may give grace to the listeners. Ephesians 4:29 MEV
Our words should be building up and encouraging those around us, extending grace. If only we can remember the power our words can have on someone else. Here’s another version of the same scripture:
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Ephesians 4:29 MSG
A gift. I never thought of my words in that way. We give gifts to those we care about, to show how much they mean to us, and to bless them. I want my words to reflect a blessing on those I come in contact with.
How can I speak with one voice in my blogs, inspiring people all around the world, and have a different voice in person that hurts those God has put in my everyday life?
Our words should be edifying – building up, not tearing down. This goes for family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and even political candidates. They are all God’s children – no matter how they act or what we think about them.
When we gossip, ridicule, tear down, or demean someone, we smell like rotten peppers (see last week’s blog here if you missed it).
It’s better to bite your tongue than to eat your words. Frank Sonnenberg
I fully intend to get this mouth under control, no matter how many times I have to bite my tongue, clench my jaws, and count to ten. I just hope it doesn’t take my entire journey on this next trip around the sun.
Each day evaluate the words you are using with the people around you.
Are you giving them the gift of kind and uplifting words? Or do you still need to work on getting your tongue under control?
Feel free to respond in the comments section… and share this story with someone in your life that could use the encouragement.
Follow Destined 4 the Dub for the Inspiration each week as we journey through the highs and lows of life!