21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.Proverbs 18:21
Winter break has been a rollercoaster of events and emotions, but that’s really not a surprise during the hectic holiday season. I’m not talking about the stress of baking cookies or even the unsaid judgement in the room of family members while talking about politics. Within the past few weeks, I have been convicted and confronted, judged and loved. Here’s what I mean:
Just recently, I was told by the kindest person I know that I’m a spoiled and ungrateful brat. I look up to this person and they are influential in my life. I took that sentence straight to the heart. In the moment, I felt a mixture of anger and a strong desire to cry. I felt my vulnerability spill out like the yolk of an over-easy egg, all without my control. I had no words.
20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.Proverbs 19:20
1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.Proverbs 15:1
I know that’s who I am. I know that I am sassy and bold. I am loud and powerful, especially compared to those who are delicate and dainty. I know that I demand tasks to be done my way. I know I am selfish. I know I don’t say please and thank you enough. My words are always said in a judgmental and commanding tone. My tongue truly gets the best of me and brings out the worst in me. 2
3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.Proverbs 13:3
God spoke directly through this person to me. God is telling me, Gretchen, you read so much on Proverbs, your tattoo says Speak Life, and you’re so good at encouraging others. But none of that erases the attitude that takes advantage of your tone. Your heart has stored a piece of ice, your tongue is evil, Child.
19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.Proverbs 10:19
16 Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.Proverbs 12:16
I could cry because of all the times I have hurt someone’s feelings over my ruthless words. Just recently, I have been asking God for forgiveness in this area of my life. I desperately need His grace and unchanging love as I run in circles. He is ready with open arms when I take 1 step forward but 3 steps back in my relationships. I beg Him to change my heart, but I thank Him for showing me my heart. My heart has been selfish as I let my sarcastic tone control the conversation and hurt someone else’s heart. Of course, half the time this isn’t intentional. But half the time it is.
21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.Proverbs 19:21
It’s time to start thinking before I speak. To think about the other person, not my ego. It’s time to deeply pray for God to take control of my tongue, because no man can tame the tongue (James 3:8). I fully surrender my heart and mind to Him because I cannot live with knowing all the people I am hurting. This surrender will start anew every day, because I will fail.
26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.Proverbs 31:26
This fresh realization is just the beginning. God has no trouble reminding me of all the previous times I was bratty and downright rude. I am in the midst of refinement. I am reaching out for Jesus as I strive to follow His footsteps.
27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. 28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.Proverbs 17:27-28
Where do you see yourself in this story? Maybe you always know the current drama; everyone comes to you for the tea. You might have a tongue that spits out secrets. Do you speak lowly of even your closest friends? I admit, I’ve been there. But guess what? We’re all sinners, we all fall short. We can all also be forgiven.
22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. 23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.Proverbs 12:22-23
19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.Proverbs 20:19
Repent to God and whole-heartedly apologize to those you’ve hurt. Ask for the strength to change your bad habits, I know that’s what I’ll be doing. His strength is the only way I won’t ruin everything around me.
6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided.Proverbs 16:6
Seek first the Kingdom of God, friend.