A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse.
A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain
sets a course in the face of the strongest winds.
A word out of your mouth may seem of no account,
but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.
A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can
do that. By our speech we can ruin the world,
turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation,
send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke
with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
James 3:4-6 the Message
Talking about controlling this tongue of mine is a bit embarrassing (but what's an red faced moment between reader and blogger... fun for you and positive reinforcement for me... right?) So, we had a rough start to our school morning; there was yelling, some tears, frustrations flying right and left, from parent to child and back again. As I buckled "A" into her car seat and halfheartedly kissed the Stig, I told E! she needed to hustle and quit whining. As the Stig pulled the car out of the garage, I was in such a funk, I didn't even turn and give our traditional family goodbye - the sign language fingers pressed into "I Love You". I headed in to the house to begin my Sabbath (my day of rest.) But there was no rest in me - just restless discontent. What had happened to our morning? Where had we stepped off the happy trail onto the tracks of this train wreck? So I made a split second decision - I needed to talk to my family - I needed to apologize. We still had time... they hadn't been gone more than three whole minutes.
I speed dialed the Stig who picked up on speaker phone... and that's when I heard it...
"Hi, Momma!" E said in this perky little voice. As if nothing had happened. She was doing just what she's seen me do a hundred times, stuff the feelings and answer the phone in a voice nothing like my own. She asked my how I was doing and what my plans were for the day. I sat there with my mouth agape. When my whits came back to their seat, I mustered up the courage to apologize. I told all three of them that my attitude had been stinky that morning, and I really intended to work on that. Both girls were quick to say, "It's ok, Momma!" while the Stig, wizened to my quick fix tricks, stayed quiet. My sweet husband is on to my need to hastily say I'm sorry and move on... Lets say he's heard my phone voice a few times.
My phone voice is not my true voice - it is what I sound like when I'm not sure what or who I'm facing. It can turn on a dime. It feels fake and forced. I don't like that once I identify the caller, it either drops an entire octave and I get real or it continues in a falsetto and I take on a persona that is so bogus even my 4 year old is on to it.
So how do I shed the phone voice and harness this tongue of mine? How do I turn this HUGE ship (our family) with one little rudder (my tongue)? It starts with a prayer:
Father, reclaim my tongue.
When it wants to fly from this mouth of mine
cause it to sit quietly in it's resting place.
When criticisms tickle it - when anger burns it
give me the wisdom to be silent and retain none of fury's sting.
Speak into this heart the words that improve silence...
and the willingness to discern the difference.
Guide my tongue to be that tiny rudder that turns this big ole' ship around
and give my children eyes to see me cleaning up the oil spill my tongue has caused
and a desire to use their mouths to praise and bless - to build and grow.
And thank you for being patient with me while I work on this tiny titanic... my tongue.
Now I'm off to paint a few "Watch your Tongue" signs and write this scripture out for my memorization wall. Because really, this is a BIGGIE! And if I can get this one controlled, God can use me for better things...
Which in the end means less of me and more of HIM!