It’s funny how we have so many things that we say but then don’t follow ourselves. “Think before you speak” is one of those statements we make to children, but then ignore ourselves. But let’s take that statement and add a little more and say “Think of who you are speaking for before you speak.” Wait, what? Don’t worry, I’ll explain. But I need to paint the picture for you first.
Yesterday was a hard day. I knew I would have a hard day on Thursday after the post I wrote Wednesday. So when I woke up, I put on my armor, took a deep breath and told God that I knew He had my back. And as I expected, the enemy attacked hard and fast. When that didn’t work, he had some back-up tactics. And then he just decided that he would continue to come after me all day long and hope that I would eventually give in.
I had a muscle spasm in my lower back which left me with so much pain that it hurt to breath. Roman got sick and had to leave work. (Keep in mind that Roman never ever gets sick-in fact this is the first time I remember him being sick in our entire two years of marriage!) Work was just eight hours of stress that kept exploding in my face. But there was one particular attack that almost got the best of me, had it not been for the grace of God stepping in and picking me up off of the floor.
A co-worker stepped into my office. The conversation went something like this:
Her: Are you pregnant?
Me: No, I’m not.
Her: Are you sure you’re not pregnant?
Me: Yes ma’am, I’m sure.
Her: Well you sure do look pregnant. You’ve gained a bunch of weight. I can definitely see it in your face too. Your face is getting really full.
Me: (bewildered) Well…….I did gain some weight during these last few semesters of college. And I probably gained some from the cruise, seeing as how all you do on a cruise is eat!
Her: Well, if you say so. I mean, it looks good on you, but I was just wondering. Seems like you’ve just gained all of it really fast.
I don’t think I have every wanted to slap someone in the face as bad as I did in that moment. I didn’t know whether to cry or scream. As soon as she was out of sight, I quickly got up and walked back to the kitchen. Then I walked to the bathroom. And in my head I was having praying something like this:
“What in the world God? Why would she say something like that? I’m not going to be mad at her, I know who those comments really came from. I’m not going to be upset. I’m not going to let this ruin my day. I’m not going to be upset. I’m not going to be upset. …..I’m not going to eat that cookie in my drawer. I may try and run this afternoon if the chiropractor makes my back feel better. No, that’s dumb. I’m not going to do that. Does my face really look bigger? Did I really gain that much weight? Just one more hour until I can leave this place, today has been so awful!”
And then I called Roman. Despite my reptition of the words “I’m not going to be upset”, I cried on the phone anyways. Of course, Roman was mad as fire that someone would say something like that to his wife, but he was also very encouraging. He told me I was beautiful. He told me me face was not fat. He told me I was not fat. He told me to just calm down and not to listen to that trash.
But sometimes, no matter what anyone else says (even your husband!), when someone makes a comment that hurtful, it just, well, hurts! I’ve been called many things before, but never has someone directly called me fat. And as someone who already struggles with my self-image, that was a really hard thing for me to just let go of. But like I said earlier, despite the hurt, I knew exactly where that came from. I knew what the enemy was trying to do. He was trying to hurt me in a way that he has always been able to hurt me. He wanted to knock me down and keep me down for the next few days.
I was determined not to let him. So I logged onto Facebook hoping to see a cute picture of a puppy or read a funny status. I forgave that woman in my heart and promised God I would no longer desire to slap her. I did my best to let it go and not let her words ring in my ears.
As the page loaded, I saw that I had a message. I braced myself. My last post had gotten the most views out of any of my other posts, so I assumed I was probably about to get some hate mail. After all, it was a pretty controversial topic to write about.
Cue the grace of God. I love it when God steps in and picks us up in situations like this. A friend had read my last post. God worked through my words to give her a change of heart. She thanked me. She encouraged me to keep writing. She said she had been praying for Roman and I with his job situation. Oh happy day.
I cried again, but this time out of happiness. That message was written to me the day before, but because I was having such a busy day at work I had not logged onto Facebook. And because I had not logged onto Facebook I wound up seeing that message at the exact moment when I needed some major encouragement. In that moment, it felt like God wrapped His arms around me and whispered that everything was going to be okay. And in that moment, I was truly able to let that comment go. (And I later stuck my tongue out at the devil and ate that cookie anyways out of spite.) Isn’t God just so cool?!??
Now that the picture is painted, let’s go back to the beginning. Who are you speaking for when you open your mouth? Are you speaking words of hurt, or words of love and encouragement? Every single time we speak, we are either being an instrument for the enemy or an instrument for our Father.
“Think before you speak.” Those are wise words to live by. The tongue is the hardest part of our bodies to maintain control over. It’s crazy how it can do so much damage, or so much good. It is up to us which role our words play in people’s lives. Will we mess up sometimes? Of course! But we need to make a conscious effort to be more careful with our words and be quick to repent when we do mess up.
I pray today that the words I speak are filled with the love of my Father, rather than the hatred of the enemy. I pray that I am never a mouthpiece for the enemy. I pray that I always am filled with love when I speak. And in those moments when life gets rough, I pray that God gives me the wisdom to speak from His heart, and not from my emotions. And I pray this for all of you as well. So on this beautiful Friday (that is going to be scorching hot!), let’s take the words that we speak to children, add a little bit more to it, and apply them in our own lives.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by the strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt walter flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” ~James 3:1-12