Think Before You Speak Part 2: The Untamable Tongue

Photo Credit: Aaron Evans
tongue (noun)
1. Anatomy; the usually movable organ in the floor of the mouth in humans and most vertebrates, functioning in eating, in tasting, and, in humans, in speaking.
2. the human tongue as the organ of speech
3. the faculty or power of speech

In Part 1 of the Think Before You Speak Series, I addressed The Problem With Venting It’s time to take a closer look at the small, yet critical force that is our tongue, and I’d like to begin with a story…

“Well, ya know, I mean the Bible tells us to love everybody.  So yeah, I guess I love her.”  Ouch.  Those were the words I heard when my former Pastor asked my boyfriend at the time if he loved me.  We’d been having problems, and with talk of marriage it was imperative that we ironed our issues out.  Needless to say this comment was the nail in the coffin, and I cut ties with this individual almost immediately. I should’ve felt free and confidant, knowing that I would no longer have to spend any energy on someone who wasn’t worthy of my love and devotion.  I should’ve been relieved to have this toxic person out of my life.  I should’ve been able to shrug my shoulders and forget the hurtful things that were said, with as much ease as the shoulders shrugged who said them.  Alas, the story didn’t go that way.  His statement (among other unpleasant ones) left me feeling empty, insecure, and inadequateThe harsh words could not be taken back, and the pain I experienced was not easily overcome.

Friends, did you know that our words have the potential to cause harm?  I shared this with you to clearly illustrate what can happen when we underestimate the power of this tiny member of our body.  For all intensive purposes it’s nothing more than a necessary organ for eating and speaking, but used in the wrong way unspeakable damage can be done.

Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Have you ever said how broke you were financially and wondered why your income never increased?  Maybe you’ve been sick and instead of claiming your healing you cling to your miserable state as that cough or sore throat sticks with you for days. I’ve heard teachers or parents refer to a struggling child as slow or stupid (breaks my heart!) ,yet they act surprised when they bring home a failing grade.  The reason for this cause and effect is because we’ve turned our thoughts in to action and given place to those actions by the power of our words.

Luke 6:45 (NKJV)

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

When we speak death in our circumstances (negativity, defeat, hopelessness) that’s exactly what we’re going to receive.  On the other hand we can speak life (faith, love, and hope with a Godly perspective) and reap the benefits of using our words wisely.  This is not only true when dealing with our personal situations, but also in what we share with others. Are you bringing joy and peace, or harm and destruction into the life of someone else? I’ve been on the receiving end of both (as I’m sure we all have), and as much as the words of exhortation have lifted me up, words of devastation have also caused my spirit to come crashing down.

Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Proverbs 15:4 (NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

I once heard a Pastor say the fork in the tongue is like the road.  We choose which direction to travel, and with the help of Holy Spirit we can be kept on the right path.  I understand that this message is not a new one, but I’m trusting it’s one that’s being shared in due season.  Each and every day we’re given numerous opportunities to use our words for good or for evil, and as James describes below, we ought to show the tongue the respect it deserves.  Let us all take a moment and consider how we can do more to “tame” the untamable tongue!

James 3:5-12 (NLT)

5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.  But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

Be blessed and stay tuned for Part 3!

Are you speaking life or death into your circumstances?

Do you encourage or discourage others when you speak to them?

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Cry Baby Cry: I Just Want My Mommy!

Yesterday was frustrating. I’ve been teaching Bible Study the last couple months, and while I prepare throughout the week I spend most of the day on Wednesday completing my notes and getting spiritually and mentally ready for the evening. On these days I pray for focus, solid understanding, Holy Spirit wisdom, and for a cooperative baby (among other things). To my chagrin, Alexandra was not in agreement with my last request, and cries rang out all day. 

 I did my best to read between the lines (and tears). Whether it was for food, a diaper change, to be held, to be entertained, stared at, more food, whatever, I was hard pressed to get anything done. I couldn’t help but think of my friends who would chuckle and say ”welcome to mommyhood” or ”you might as well get used to this now”. True as these words may be, I was in no laughing mood. I was in desperate need of productivity, and the breaks in which I let her ”cry it out” only rattled my nerves more. Instead of having a meltdown, I tried explaining to her that mommy needed a shower, lunch and to study. She wouldn’t budge. The small signs of growing independence she’d been displaying all week were all but gone. It was clear. She just wanted her mommy. I somehow managed to accomplish 2 of the 3 items on my list (like my child, being clean and full makes me feel better!) before texting the hubby, asking him to head home expeditiously once he got off work. As much as my baby needed me, I needed his help to accomplish what I’d set out to do. In the meantime, I surrendered to the cries and gave into Alexandra’s every request until daddy came home to rescue me.

At last he arrived, and like my knight in shining armor he took the baby in the other room, and there was peace at last!  Well, not completely, lol, but enough for me to finish what I’d set out to do hours before.  Off to Bible study we went, and while still trying to shake off the “blahs”, my little one’s currently joyful disposition all but erased the earlier madness. Returning home last night was more of the same.  I was the one she was looking for to give her comfort before she went to sleep.  It was in my arms that she wanted to be held, and my voice that soothed her cares away.  I was so bothered earlier, but as the house fell silent and the stars shone brightly outside my window, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of appreciation.  As much as it may irritate me when things don’t go according to my plan, I can’t stand the thought of my baby being unhappy.  Knowing that I have what it takes to wipe those tears and bring that smile out is more meaningful than what I can truly put in to words.  The crazy part is, I don’t have all the answers, yet I find a way to soothe her.  God is omniscient, and He not only knows everything I need, but has the means to provide all that I ask of Him!  If the love I have for my daughter is but a mere glimpse of what the Lord feels toward me, I am indeed priceless in His eyes!!!  Isn’t that refreshing?!

The love of our Father goes beyond the cross, thru the Resurrection, and into our innermost spirit.  He wants us to cling to Him like a baby clings to her mother, and go to Him with our every request.  Do you cry out to God?  Do you desire to constantly be in His presence? His goodness is always enveloping us, but do you feel it?  Do you know it?  God is waiting, and like the ultimate parent He springs into action when we call on His name.

Thank you Lord for your goodness!!

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Anger Management

For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are several tell-tale signs that help us identify a person who is angry. It may be expressed with a furrowed brow, clenched teeth, balled up fists, bulging veins, a tightened jaw, streams of tears, harsh words, the silent treatment, or the cold shoulder. Yesterday I had an angry day, and it was evident in my semi-permanent scowl. No one did anything to me, but I was upset with myself. We’d just returned from a terrific vacation, and I guess certain realities set in too quickly. I was tired, out of it, grumpy, and forgetful, and was basically having an off day. Not even the excitement of Alexandra’s first San Francisco Giants game could completely snap me out of my mood, and I struggled to figure out why I was so mad? A number of minor annoyances occured, but it was the realization that I’d left an important item at home that sent me spiraling over the edge. Moments before we were slated to begin our lovely family evening I completely broke down.  I called to my husband and with my body shaking and tears welling in my eyes I proceeded to tell him what a loser I was and how stupid it was of me to forget.  He assured me that everything was fine, but I preferred to beat myself up than accept his comfort.  Only seconds passed (although it felt like longer), and with several deep breaths I wiped my eyes, shrugged my shoulders and finally decided to let it all go.  I wanted to enjoy my night, but the only way to do so was to get rid of the funk and move on.  We went on to have a fantastic time, but deep down I felt like a fool.  I’d let my anger get the best of me, and a certain scripture played on repeat in my mind.

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV)

 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.

This had me thinking.  What does it mean to be angry without sin? How does God feel about our anger?  Had my lack of self-control given the Enemy a foothold?  In order to answer these questions I had to first gain a clearer understanding.

The Greek word for angry is orgizō and it means “to provoke or to arouse to anger”.  Provoke  means to “stimulate or give rise to (a reaction or emotion, typically a strong or unwelcome one) in someone”. The Greek word for sin is hamartanō and literally means “to miss the mark”.  While addressing the church at Ephesus, Paul expressed that while anger is a natural human emotion it should never be a hinderance in our walk, causing us or someone else to stumble.  Ouch.  I’d definitely failed that test, and allowed my frustration to reign supreme.

As previously illustrated, anger comes in a variety of forms.  The cause for such revved up emotion may be mistreatment, suffering an injustice, a disagreement with your spouse, being on the receiving end of gossip or harsh words (new post on this issue coming soon), financial troubles, work drama, or simply having a bad day.  There are times that anger is justified, but we shouldn’t use those scenarios as an excuse to behave badly.  I behaved badly because I’d forgotten the Holy Spirit power that dwells in me.

His example is the epitome of how we should handle ourselves when faced with such challenges.  Our flesh wants that immediate reaction, but God wants us to stop, wait, and think before we speak. In Christ we are able to exhibit self-control, pray for our enemies, encourage ourselves as David did, and overcome evil with good.   Being in Christ means we don’t allow circumstances to affect the principles of Godly living, and remaining consistent in our faith walk is a testament to our growth in Him. Feeling anger is not a crime, but it’s imperative that we think twice before expressing it in a detrimental way. Whether you’re prone to outbursts of wrath or holding it in until it bubbles over like a volcanic eruption, anger is an emotion that must be controlled lest it leads to undesired consequences.  Look to the Lord for your answers. 

Some additional verses to contemplate:

Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV) A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Psalm 103:8(NKJV)  The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

Ephesians 4:31 (NKJV)  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Psalm 4:4-5 (NKJV) Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the Lord.

Proverbs 14:17 (NKJV) A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of wicked intentions is hated.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NKJV) Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.

Do you cope well with anger or let it consume you?  How do you exhibit self-control?

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Dealing with Anger…God’s Way by Joyce Meyer

The Mommy Meltdown

It’s ok.  You can admit it.  Raising children has its fair share of challenges.  In spite of the numerous books, magazines, and freely given (whether welcomed or not) advice, there is no “How-To” book designed specifically for your child.  So why is it so hard sometimes to admit when we’ve hit a rough patch? Maybe it’s because parenting comes with so many labels, and we’re trying too hard to live up to some standard that they set.  A “good” parent is loving, kind, nurturing, patient, prepared, intuitive, etc.  But what if you’re not always this cool, calm and collected mommy that makes everything look so easy?  What if your baby, toddler, pre-teen, teen or adult child gets on your nerves sometimes?  What if you have a moment or two (or more) that push you to your wit’s end? Does this make you the bad guy?  No.  I’d say it makes you human, and I certainly had a very “human” afternoon today.

This morning started off like any other.  Alexandra and I had our quality time together, then we headed out to get my hair done. I was looking forward to some pampering and I prayed that my daughter would cooperate.  She didn’t sleep through the 2 and a half hour appointment like she did 6 weeks ago, and she was the center of attention with her bubbly personality.  She smiled and cooed and smiled some more.  She talked and laughed out loud.  I was so proud of her patience with mommy and we happily journeyed home in time for my lunch and her nap.  She fell asleep in the car and remained peaceful as I brought her upstairs into our apartment.  Excited by her cooperation, and truly feeling beautiful for the first time in a while, I decided to take a picture of myself.  Just one picture. 


After the hundreds I’ve taken of her I thought this would be permissible, but she awoke with plans of her own.  My sweet, resting baby was suddenly putting on her best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impersonation, as she let out blood-curdling screams!  “Please  Alexandra.  Let mommy take her picture ok?  It’ll only be a moment then I’ll be right there.”  EEEEEH.  Wrong answer!  “Ok baby, here I come.”  So I scooped her up and ran through the gamut of soothing activities.  Finally she was calm and I was free to finish my ill-conceived photo plan.  I quickly snapped a suitable shot before the shrill cries rang out again, but it was too late and I couldn’t take it anymore.  Between the challenges I was having with my camera phone, my rumbling stomach that had  long-since devoured my meager breakfast, and her outbursts of discontentment, I’d had enough!! I raised my voice in despair and asked her the question she could not yet answer in words.  What is it that you want?!?!!”  She then let out a long, sad whimper I’d never heard before, and my anger quickly dissipated.

I was now holding Alexandra close to my heart, and gently stroked her hair as I prayed and rocked back and forth.  I felt absolutely terrible, and I don’t know how I managed to hold back my tears of guilt and shame.  I couldn’t believe I allowed myself to get so frustrated.  My precious child rarely has moments like this, and I knew she was simply tired and restless since she’s been experiencing the growing pains of teething.  I recognized that her being the life of the party at the hairdresser’s was not some evil plot to lure me into a false sense of security, and I asked the Lord to give me just a measure of the strength He uses to deal with my fits and fussiness.  I deeply exhaled, regrouped, and was once again ready to cater to my baby’s every need.

As if to test my sincerity, I was forced to tackle a cataclysmic diaper change within minutes of my meltdown.  World War III had occurred on the changing table and all over my little one’s clothes.  I rushed her to the bathtub, carrying her like an explosive bomb, all the while trying to figure out how she got poop in her underarms!  As she splashed in the water I had to laugh.  She looked at me with her precious smile and her thoughts seemed to read “this is the life of a baby mom.”  I realized I’d be missing these moments one day, so I cleaned her up and thanked God for reminding me to count it all joy.

The rest of my day wasn’t a cakewalk, and finishing this post has brought me into the wee hours of the night.  But I’m glad I had a day like today with its challenges and wide range of emotions.  I’m glad because Holy Spirit had yet another opportunity to teach me something and I plan to hold onto what I’ve learned.  I’m doing my very best with Alexandra.  I won’t always have the day I’ve planned for in my head, or have the chance to complete the tasks I’ve been longing to finish, but if I can find the good in a frustrating situation I’m a success in my own right.  Thank you Father for this refreshing outlook and I embrace the many more to come!!

How do you react in frustrating situations?

Do you believe there’s a lesson to be learned in every circumstance?

Who Entitled You?! (Originally Posted May 10, 2012)

The other day I heard a story that left me utterly disturbed.  A family member shared a recent experience while dining at a busy, casual restaurant with her husband and 7 month old.  Apparantly there were two large parties of 10 people near their table, along with toddler age children that weren’t under the strictest supervision.  It was noisy and crowded in the entire place, and at the moment her young son was over-stimulated and began to cry.  Though it was obvious that several people contributed to the raucous, a woman near her table turned and asked them to leave because “your baby’s crying is annoying me”.  She was on a date and apparently she thought she had the right to make this request. I froze in shock and disbelief as the details of the event unfolded. Did this person actually say that?  Out loud?!! It’s not like this baby was kicking this woman’s chair, throwing food or physically disrupting her meal while her parents sat idly by.  They were doing their best to soothe their child, but in her world it wasn’t enough.  Before they left the restaurant I know my family member’s husband gave this person a piece (or two or three…) of his mind, but the bitter taste of having to deal with this lady’s thoughtless reaction still lingered.Read More