I use a lot of words. I like words, how there are so many ways to say something and give it just the right effect or connotation… I blog because the words leaving my head are like therapy to me, a way to “get it out” so I can let go. I wish I could say that my words are always “seasoned with grace”, but it would be far from the truth. I want them to be. But often what comes out is the frustration, impatience, the steam that has built up over all the “little messes” a day holds. This week has been filled with opportunities to give grace to others, by speaking in love or by just not speaking at all… I have failed almost every single time. And every time, I have hung my head, asked God to forgive, and asked for another chance or two to get it right? A dangerous prayer to pray, friends! But I WANT this change, this transformation, and how else but to practice? So this post of carefully selected words is just a girl digging her trench for the battle, trusting God to finish what He started in my heart, this path to a grace-full life.
What God has prescribed for me, to cure this mouth, these hands, of these toxic words, is a Silent Treatment of sorts… Now, ask my husband and he will laugh, telling you I am not capable of being silent. I realize a lot of women use the “silent treatment” when angry, but not this girl. I talk, and text, and talk, and text some more until I am satisfied my point has gotten across. Then I think about all the words I wish I’d said, and look for opportunities to say them! (I am not advocating this approach, as it has a way of making a bad situation worse.) The book of Proverbs is filled with instruction on how to use our words wisely, and the dangers of reckless words. What is a reckless word? Any word I say that isn’t flowing from a heart of grace and compassion, any word I say that is merely an emotional reaction, any word I say that I haven’t carefully chosen in order to reflect Jesus and His love. I have spoken (and texted) many reckless words this week, and in the moment, felt justified in speaking them. Today, in hindsight, I am filled with regret and shame that I could be so self-righteous, so superior, so arrogant… But the words are out there, and I can’t get them back. So what is a girl to do? I think I will follow God’s instruction and learn when to speak up and when to shut up!
Here is my plan… It might prove to be the single hardest thing I have ever done… I am going to be quiet. I am going to make a concentrated effort to identify the anxiety, frustration, and impatience that often lead to my recklessly spoken words. And when I am feeling those things, I am (with God’s help) going to be silent! I will leave the room or situation if necessary, pray for grace, and just not say anything. Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I have said anything of any value when my anxiety level was high. So the obvious solution is to just not talk. Or text. Or email. (Might still blog, just not publish? You know, to get it out…)
So many times this week, I spoke (or texted), then immediately realized I had just blown it. Royally. Again. And wished I could rewind and get a do-over. But it takes more than wishing, doesn’t it? It would be nice if we could just wish to be Christlike and that was enough. Or just pretend that we are until we really are. But I would rather live authentically, be honest about the fact that I am a work in progress, because, if we are honest, aren’t we all muddling and struggling and learning this straight and narrow?
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, so this week I think I’ll keep what’s left of my sanity and try something new! I have practiced a little today, and found that it takes great concentration to keep my mouth shut. And I even looked up several key verses on word-wisdom to memorize. Hopefully that will keep my mind too busy to replay conversations, imagining all the things I could have said to cut someone down to size or get the last word. And above all, I am praying that God will fill me with His grace and true compassion, and that I won’t be so easily distracted by the messiness of life and forget who and Whose I am. Of what value is proving a point or being “right” if I have made someone feel unloved, unaccepted or devalued? Makes my heart hurt to think I have been guilty of those things, because I have certainly been on the receiving end enough to know how it feels. It hurts to feel like LESS. But when my words cut down, I am making someone feel like LESS. Aren’t we called to build one another up? Is that just a guideline for our easy relationships? I am beginning to see that it is all the more important to build up those that are the HARDEST to show grace to, because the hard relationships are the ones that teach us how to make less of ourselves, how to walk humbly and justly, with compassion and mercy. Like Jesus. He showed us how. With the woman at the well. With you and with me.
Following His lead this week… Speaking only grace-words (because I can do EVERYTHING through Him who gives me strength). Wonder if you care to join me?
Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and nourishing to the bones.