Tuesday, January 28, 2014

speak life

It's easy for me to control my actions. I'm not one who's prone to get into fist fights or to get into trouble for acting out impulses. I may have to clench my fists from time to time, but my temper doesn't flare that way. I don't throw things or punch things--although every once in a while the tendency to slam a door carries over from my teenage days.

But what I do have a problem with is controlling my tongue.

It's not "bad words," per se. I've never been one to have that habit and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I've said a cuss word in my life.

But too often, my words cut people down. And not just any people--the most important people, my family-people.

We are told in James that the tongue is like the rudder of a ship or the bit in a horse's mouth. It's this tiny little thing, but it's capable of steering everything else. It's also said to be the most difficult thing to control (to which I can attest, unfortunately).

"All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of a deadly poison." (James 3:7&8)

There's a saying that a lot of kids use:  
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me! 
In my day, it was usually recited in a sing-song voice and followed by a tongue being stuck out. If you think back, though, which hurts are the ones you remember?

Do you still feel a twinge of pain over that knee that got banged up when you tripped and fell, or over the words that were spoken when others pointed and laughed?

I'm a logophile. To be honest, I had to look that up just now--but what it means is a "lover of words." It is amazing to me that any thought or feeling you want to convey can be woven with 26 little letters. I pour words out onto paper almost daily, writing with the hope that one day someone else will get something from my words.

On this blog I use my words to encourage and to challenge and to tell my story. In the notebook I carry with me almost everywhere, I use my words to tell a different kind of story, a fantasy, but if I'm honest I'm trying to do the same thing with those words.

Words have the ability to lift people up, to drive them to do the impossible, to inspire.

But words also have the power to tear down, to wound, to break hearts and spirits.

Too often, my words to my husband and kids have the negative attributes instead of the positive. I snap and complain and gripe, and I can see in their eyes that my words have done damage. Instead of affirming them, I've knocked them down a notch.

And after, we all feel worse.

"With the tongue we praise our LORD and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be." (James 3:9&10)

We were created to praise, which means our tongues were created to speak praise. Sometimes (more some days than others), we need to bite our tongue before we speak--maybe that's why God surrounded it with teeth, you think?

When we speak with kindness--
when we encourage and inspire and uplift--
we have the ability to speak life into those around us.

Will you join me in a challenge? For the rest of this week, bridle your tongue. When you're tempted to say something that will wound someone, use that row of teeth as a fence to hold back the negative. This week, try to speak love and life to those around you. I'll do the same, and maybe next week you can let me know how it went for you!

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Thoughts? I would love to hear them!
~Mandy