Tuesday, January 18, 2011

two guards at the door

My dear friend and blog-mentor, Ann, has invited us to write about words.  It's a good push to gather my thoughts and experiences recently as I've been paying closer attention to my own.  The tongue.... my tongue: fire-starter or overflowing storehouse of goodness?  

I'm a verbal processor.  I like to tell stories and I really like (ok, too often I feel like I need) people to understand my stories, understand my heart in telling them.  I've known this for years.  But only recently have I caught on to one special feature of this craziness...

Sometimes I get pretty heated up if I feel like my point is not understood, my heart not heard.  My wonderful love is not a man who tends to be quick with words.  And sometimes if I'm telling him what happened in a day, or what I'm fearing might be, and I don't hear enough verbal feedback from him..... suddenly, sadly, my words can turn up a level- the intensity, the urgency, the passionate "need" to be understood- and the story becomes more than it is or really needs to be.  And to be honest, sometimes my story stays hot like this until I'm agreed with. Ug.  That's an I-really-wish-it-wasn't-the-case confession, not a proud boast.

The craziness flows quick.  My words come faster than feelings sometimes, or at least I hear my words before I am aware of my feelings.  When my words expand around some proud ambition inside me, it's no good at all for my heart.

Jesus said it's from the heart that the mouth speaks.  So, there, the true bottom line.  I know my heart is set, fueled, raring to go, but somehow hearing my own uncontrolled words, my own frustrated voice, knowing my face has slumped angry, feels like permission or an excuse for my heart to leap into an all-the-more wild race after untruth.

But there is a very good part to this lesson:  to be self-controled with my words and especially how my words are communicated (my voice and face) is going a long way to control my heart to stay to what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable... It's finally occurred to me that if I can control the tone of my voice and the character displayed on my face, then my heart stays anchored worlds better and it doesn't get the chance to race so far into its sinful selfishness.  With these two guards in place, choosing wise words and sincerely communicating them is infintely easier.

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
Psalm 141:3

Maybe it has something to do with my first line of attack:  choosing to engage my brain (selecting words) or engage my heart (choosing gentleness and love)?  Of course I'll have to choose good words to speak, but if it's already decided that I will say whatever those words are with a calm, peaceful, loving voice, then triumph is near, the battle feels almost already won.... at least it does for me.   When my heart is guarded, constrained, controlled (instead of flung on the waves of any ole' worldly passion or pregnant compulsion).... the words that will flow out of it will be much more full of Christ.  

So this seems to be how things are working for me lately.  Aiming my attack on my brain- to wisely select words- has left me feeling like a hypocrite and usually hardly helps.  On the other hand, determining that I am not allowed to raise my voice, speak unkindly, or give angry, disapproving, disappointed eyes has narrowed the range of possibilities not only for the words that come out, but also for my heart that reacts to the words that it hears.  

We are not there yet, folks.  I have a long way to go in strengthening these self-control muscles.  But praise be to the Lord, I'm finding much grace in attending to these two guards, setting the tone of my voice and displaying Christ's grace on my face, to guide and guard my tongue to pour out only good, strengthening, life-giving words.

Oh please make it so Lord, in your grace, for your praise!


  1. I am very much a verbal processor and find I start over-sharing and creating problems between Justin and me just to get him to respond. I have started catching myself and stopping the lies. It's so ugly! I am so thankful for the H.S. for helping me say no to lies and say yes to truth. Thank YOU for sharing so I don't feel so alone! xoxo, The Schells

  2. I love this post, and I recognize a lot of myself in it (well, in the first part - the grace and charity in the last part is still something I have not yet attained! :)). Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your stories.

  3. Thank you. This is a post that I will have to return to in order to fully let it sink in and to continue to change my heart and my words.