Thursday, June 14, 2012

Setting 'Em Straight

"A great man is always willing to be little."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recently I sat through a conversation, all the while squirming in my chair with my tongue gripped firmly between my incisors, praying for the strength to remain silent, muzzled. 

What I was hearing was nothing short of self-absorbed commentary; all roads leading to their interests - me, mine, I, myself, moi.  It felt as though they were sucking the air from the room, and with each of their passing words there was less and less air to breath.

What probably sounded like blah-blah-blah harmless chatter to others sounded so very wrong to my ears.  Something in the exchange was unsettling on so many levels; and in the worst way I wanted to call the speaker out.   

Something (Someone) restrained me ...  

Those who consider themselves religious and
yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues
deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.  
 ~ James 1:26

I would have liked to apply that scripture to them, but in the moment it was me to which God spoke.

Here's the real problem behind this conundrum.  Words, once spoken, cannot be as easily retracted as the sunroof on my Toyota.  There's a godly economy of words prescribed for believers; and it's often associated with the when or how of their use.  Timing & motive are critical.  Once spoken they're out there, taking their place among the stars & galaxies.  That can be a good thing.  That can also be a not-so-good thing.

Self is insistent at times, isn't it?  There are many, many words I wish I'd never spoken; words that ripped past my gripping teeth, shoving their way beyond wisdom's muzzle.   They've lived on to become the primary ingredient of Humble Pie, or the eating of crow.  Oh how I loath feathers!

Please don't interpret that I'm in favor of denial or retreat in the face of conflict.  That would be tantamount to cowardly avoidance; and sometimes tough things must be spoken.  God knows we need heavy doses of His wisdom to navigate the oft-times difficult dialogues.      

I read a headline the other day which stated so-and-so retracted their statement.  But what if you didn't hear or read that particular headline to know of the retraction?  Your knowledge-stores would not be replenished & updated with the new information.   Worse, sometimes the untrue or mean-spirited stuff sticks like slug-slime no matter how many retractions or apologies are offered.

Alas, once the proverbial cat's out of the bag, it either purrs or claws it's way ahead ... often, seemingly, forever.

"Not everything that counts can be counted,
and not everything that can be counted counts."
~ Albert Einstein

I confess:  my tongue does get loose from its tether now-and-then.   And when it does, I can almost always be certain that my own selfish bent is the cause. 

Did I say I like chocolate with my feathers?



myletterstoemily said...

our words can give life or bring death.
that is terrifying to me. just last
night a few thoughtless words flew
out of my mouth, and i instantly
regretted them.


thank goodness for His mercy and
that He has the words of eternal

Denise said...

You are so wise sweet friend.

Saleslady371 said...

I never could understand how you can retract something you said. Residue lingers and your post is a good warning to us. I'm in the naughty chair with you, Sister Sassy. I'm dealing with a big ego in my family right now having to give grace and hear God say "You do this sometimes...." Yikes.

Debbie said...

I can tell you honestly I have struggled with this my whole life. I find you have described this soo perfectly. A muzzle is just what I'd like to put on sometimes. And how much effort it takes!! And yet at the same time opening my mouth and saying what NEEDS to be said can be just as trying sometimes...sigh. The Holy Spirit has got His work cut out for Him with me in this area. I am afraid that I too have learned that I hate feathers...Have a good day!

Debbie said...

I can tell you honestly I have struggled with this my whole life. I think you have described this soo perfectly. A muzzle is just what I need sometimes. And yet opening my mouth and saying what NEEDS to be said sometimes, can be just as trying. The Holy Spirit sure has His work cut out for Him with me in this area..sigh. I have found I don't like the taste of feathers much either, haha. Have a good day!

Just a little something from Judy said...

Words are so powerful! My husband and I were just talking about that last evening. One little comment about someone can last for years, even if it was not true. I am trying to teach my grandchildren about the tube of toothpaste and that our words are like the toothpaste...once out of the tube, almost impossible to get back in. I let them try to put it back in so the thought sticks with them.

I am so thankful for my God's amazing grace in my life and how He shows it to me time and time again, often through my words. When I wanted to express my thoughts and He stopped me. What a God we serve!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

A great post on the heels of your last one. I'm continuing to learn the value of silence. I remember my father telling me (as a young child), "Elaine, feel free not to tell us everything on your mind."

Self-control. This really is my season to "get" this one. Praying it takes.


RCUBEs said...

How true that if we are not careful, words we let out can either build or ruin relationships! I love the quote from Emerson you added. It is often easier to think of "self" as better than others but Jesus is very clear, "We are to think others above ourselves."

I always pray for self-control before entering any arena where grapevine abounds (like at work). I know it is not me to tame this tiny, destructive organ called tongue but His might and power! May we always be strong in His power and might!

Debbie said...

It can be all too easy to speak when we need to be silent. You can't retrack very easily once it's out there. I've had to learn the hard way to pick my battles wisely. There's a time to speak and a time to be quiet. Some mornings I even pray that the Holy Spirit would bridle my tongue and prompt me when to speak. It always helps WHEN I do that.


PS. Loved the post on Sonja's blog about you friend.

Debbie said...

Of all the struggles of my flesh, I find that the self control of my tongue is among the hardest. It isn't the hateful things or lies, boasts, etc. that I have trouble with. It's just plain talking too much and not reining it in enough. With age has come more wisdom in that area, but He's still constantly working on me.