I've had a lot of moments in the past few weeks when I wanted to speak .... but couldn't. There's a story behind my silence, but I've been thrust back into a place where every word is precious and a reason for thanks. As my words gradually come back, I start to get careless about how I use the gift of spoken words. I wish I could say I've used every word well, but that might be a little like Solomon saying he only ever kissed one girl or like Peter saying he didn't have an anger problem. If I'm honest (and I want to be honest!) I have to admit that some of my words have been sharp, impulsive, and hurtful. If you're honest (and I want you to be honest too!) how would you say you're using your words ... you know, in the "only family-private-won't tell-forgiven" moments?
The house beside us is situated so our porch swing has a view (and an ear) to whatever happens on their front porch, in their garage, or on their back deck. I should probably tell the new neighbors this when I go over to "bake and bless" with a welcome loaf. ;) I'm sure the realtor left out that little tid bit. I didn't get to know the last lady of the house very well; she was a hard one to pin down. But I heard her.
In the years we sat on our swing beside her house (and sometimes from inside OUR house) I got to know her quite well ... through her words. Her daughter was in middle school when we moved in, and now she's in college. Her mom's male friend was often there, and the mixture of the 3 lives brought out a lot of word from the lady of the house. Don't get me wrong; we weren't TRYING to listen. We were trying to swing or chat or have dinner or entertain friends or watch tv or cookout or work in the yard. But as we lived life beside her, we all heard her words. Angry words. Cutting words. Hateful words. Loud words. Fast words.
And we heard the tears from the beautiful young daughter who wanted to grow up and go away. We heard the strong defenses and exasperation of the man-friend who left the house where the poisonous tongue lived. And when they moved away, the lady of that house ordered a dumpster, so she could yell directions and declare little value and have a place for angry things to go ... and they filled it up. From the porch swing I could see the dumpster filled with the garbage created by all of that lady's angry words.
"And a fool’s voice is known by his many words... For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity." But fear God. Eccl. 5:3b, 7
"In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise." Proverbs 10:19
I'll admit it. I really want my words back. All of them, and all of their strength. Jeff and I are going to the Vanderbilt Voice Center on Thursday to explore what has and is happening to my voice (I'll keep you posted). But in the process, God is reminding me of how important it is to use my words well, not to be a "fool's voice," but to be one who restrains my lips with wisdom. That's not always easy, is it? And He's reminding me that He can silence me if I give in to temptation and end up with a life of refuse and garbage from the way I use my tongue.
- How are you speaking to your husband? To those in your life?
- Are you using your tongue to bless and lift and encourage, or have you fallen into a toxic trap?
I wonder who's listening to OUR words ... from a porch or a table beside us or an office phone near us or a pew nearby. Let's pray and ask God to give us reminders to use our words well. Imagine He's sitting on the porch swing just outside your window ... listening. :)