I am a verbal processor and sometimes that gets me into trouble. I have to speak out loud to work things out. This can be good and bad at the same time. For those who are introverts, reasoning with a verbal processor can be a nightmare. And for people like me, working things out with an internal processor can be a frustration. But since I’ve come to learn that I am only responsible for me, I need to rein in my processing to meet the other person halfway.
My counselor has said to think of it this way, speaking to the other person in post-it-note form. Everything that I need to say in a moment of heated debate I should try to fit it into a post-it-note and then breathe. Do you know how small those notes are? Too small for a verbose wordsmith like myself…sigh…but God has been whispering to me the wisdom of heeding the counsel of James 3 (great chapter, look it up) and learn to use my tongue wisely, even when I am upset!
This has come after months and years of frustration with the internal processors in my life. I am sad to say, that the paragraphs that follow are a story of what happened when I didn’t rein in my tongue and I let loose. This incident happened over several months ago and I talked it out in my journal into a blog post hoping that it would become a spiritual marker of truth and healing for me.
I am just now opening up the vault of “ugly” with you today in hopes that it will be an encouragement. And that as we journey together in learning to bless with our tongues, we can bring words of healing instead of destruction in the moment. So here goes….
I was angry,
I was feeling lonely and tired.
I did something that I am not proud of.
I am ashamed.
I am undone.
I am sick to my stomach.
I let words slip out of my mouth that should never cross my tongue in anger.
It was an extreme moment, and in that nano-second I crossed the line and chose to speak words that kill instead of words that could give life. I was horrified and tried to clean up the mess I just made. I tried to take them back. But words can never be taken back. It is like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube, it’s messy.
I stepped back, took a breath and humbly tried to apologize, admit I was terribly wrong and no matter how justified I felt, I had no excuse. That’s the funny thing about anger, our anger may be justified, but what comes out of our mouth is critical to determining the difference between choosing words of wisdom or foolishness. My pain leaked and out came foolishness. No matter what stirred up my anger I have to take responsibility, it’s called admitting I was wrong even though I was feeling devastated and hurt myself.
It was a wake-up call for me. The words rushed out like a volcano erupting and I realized that deep inside my heart something was terribly wrong. As I reflected later, I realized that I had not been honest with myself and with the other person. After weeks of nursing hurt and pain it spilled out like a toxic poison because I hadn’t dealt with it. I thought I was doing them a favor by holding back and just trying to deal with the hurt myself. You would think after living a half a century I would get it. Being honest with others and myself is always the right choice. Keeping hurts inside and pretending that something is okay when it is not, is a climate for disaster. A small seismic volcano begins to brew until one day, you just blow up and meltdown.
So here is the heart check I am learning of what Proverbs says, An honest answer is like a warm hug. Proverbs 24:26 (Message)
Being honest is like a warm hug?
I love that. Here’s another nugget of wisdom from the same book, Proverbs 28:1, Honest people are relaxed and confident, bold as lions. Such great truth and I am soaking it all in post 24-hours of my meltdown. This next one I think I will write out on a 3×5 card and post it on my mirror so I can look at it every morning. There is one who speaks rashly, like the thrust of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18. This truth needs no explanation, it is visual.
So what’s the moral? Heart check-three things:
Number one: Don’t let hurts or wounds sit and simmer. Deal with them.
Number Two: Be honest and truthful in love, even if you are afraid to share it with the other person. I am a recovering people-pleaser and I don’t like to make waves. I am afraid of waves, I want others to like me 100% of the time. How vain is that? But that is not possible, it’s not even realistic, because I am a sinner, saved by grace and I fail each and every day.
Number Three: When you are angry, remember we have a choice. Choose words that heal or better yet, walk away, count to 10 until you calm down so your words are laced with love and truth not acrid poison that can damage the relationship.
Don’t hold to anger, hurt or pain. They steal your energy and keep you from love. Leo Buscaglia