Taking responsibility for the words that flow out from our mouths is a necessary skill for grown-ups. I know that we don’t always like to hear this, but it’s truth, especially when we are big boys and big girls.
I spent the majority of my life as a word-spewer. My emotions always led the way, and what came out of my mouth was anything but edifying. I rationalized that I had rights to speak; to be angry, to have an opinion.
If anyone was brave enough to confront me about the words I spoke, 100% of the time, I brushed them off as having misunderstood my intention, or my position. Heaven forbid that I was ever wrong! If I apologized, it was often because I was regretting they were mad, and not sorry for the words I had used to wound.
was am also a verbal processor. I like to talk. I don’t just like it, it’s is how I work through problems or process a solution. I also like to talk, because I think I have something to contribute. I have good things to say. Right? The problem wasn’t that I liked to talk, the problem was that I didn’t like to listen. When someone talks, but never listens, they become a clanging symbol. After a while what comes out of a blabber-mouth is just noise, and those around me began to dismiss themselves, or tune me out. I didn’t understand that by not shutting my mouth and using my ears, I was couldn’t expect to be listened to.
There are heaps of verses in the Bible, that address our talking and listening issues—and personally cause me to squirm!
“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” -Luke 6:45 (ESV)
“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” -Matthew 12:34 (ESV)
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” -Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
“The LORD will fight for you; you must be quiet.” -Exodus 14:14 (Holman)
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” -James 1:19 (ESV)
“Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” -Proverbs 19:27 (ESV)
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” -Proverbs 21:23 (ESV)
Conflict is never in short supply. It’s a given–If we have humans, we will have differences. In our own houses, with our very own people, we will talk when we should be silent, we will use words that inflict pain, and we will cause damage that we do not want to own. Don’t get me started about people hiding anonymously behind their keyboards on social-media sites.
We live in a messy world…but we are not left without hope, people!
“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” -Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” -Proverbs 17:27 (ESV)
Our hope lies in our redemption. Jesus made it possible for us to do life differently! With His power, we can act differently, speak differently, listen differently….and eventually, love differently.
All around us are humans who are in conflict with one another, claiming that there is just no hope. They are blaming anyone but themselves, and not understanding why what they’ve said and done has caused so much pain. They spew from the overflow of their hearts; wreaking havoc with violent words and hostile attitudes….and turn around in the next breath and wonder why they are alone, or no one understands them.
If I do the same thing over and over, I will get the same result. If I want to see healing in my relationships, if I want to give grace, if I want to learn to listen, even when it’s the hardest thing ever, I must determine how I need to change. Did you catch that?
How I need to change.
I am not the boss of you. I can’t change you. But I am the boss of me. I am 100% responsible for every word that leaves my lips. I must claim ownership for my choices of words and attitudes, because the Bible tells me so, and also because it matters for eternity!
I stop in my tracks and everything comes into clear perspective for me, when I think about years from now, when not only am I known as Duane’s Wife; Ashley, Alex, and Nichole’s Momma, Bob & Sue’s Daughter, Aunt Sheila, Sister, Friend…but I will also be Mother-in Law Sheila, Grandma Sheila, Great Grandma Taylor, and Great-Aunt Sheila. People with my blood flowing through their veins, will sit around tables with old pictures, and what will I be remembered for? How will I be known?
That right there is where the rubber meets the road for me. Every choice I make to speak love, extend grace, and forgive, will determine the future for those who will come behind. Every time I chose to say “Please forgive me for _________” and change my poor behavior, even though it hurts, I will remember that it hurts so much less, than destroying what God had intended to be good.
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering…” Ephesians 5:2 (ESV)