“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” – Ephesians 4:29
This morning God gave me a new prayer. It’s simple really. It is, “Lord, please clothe my words with your grace and give me discernment in speaking them. Amen”
I have a natural ability. I’m not sure if I was born with it or if I grew into it. I can mean things one way, but they come out of my mouth a totally different way. Also, there is an inability to disguise my disdain for something behind politeness. If I try to use nice words about something that doesn’t set well with me, people look back at me with a look of shock. So I know my words were not actually hidden. My words were all out there, fully understood.
This has caused for many embarrassing moments in my life. I’ve tried and tried to practice the proverbial, “hold my tongue” and Thumper’s mother’s warning of “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” But when tested- a phrase slips loose. And….the cycle continues.
A few years back I initiated a movement in Thorntonville that we are encouragers- “builder uppers, not tearer downers.” It was just after my son had started Junior High and was stumbling through the “everyone has to put everyone else down to be accepted” age. The idea simply consisted of refraining from put downs and replacing them with compliments to people instead. Sincere, not fake, compliments. My children have done great with the concept. My husband has always done well in this area, but I’m like Papa Bear of the Berenstain Bears. The one who truly struggles with wisdom application.
Actually, I’m being hard on myself. When life is going great, I encourage beautifully. The challenge hits (like most people), when frustration levels rise or irritation begins to burrow under the skin. How to make sincere, but polite comments, when ugly comments just feel so much better?
The American way, appears to be at the moment, to just say what you feel all the time. That seems honest enough. Is it really ok, just to lay it all out there regardless of other people’s feelings?
My feelings say, “Sure! Go for it! It will bring relief to the current tension. “My heart screams, “No! Stop! Your words will cause destruction to people you are trying to love. Love that will bless them.”
I guess, this breaks my issue down into two questions.
- How do I speak the truth in love when it is necessary to say something that is difficult, but beneficial to the receiver? Covered in prayer and then openly and honestly if it is something that needs to be said, without extra critical jargon is probably my answer.
- How do I discern when issues are truly, “me issues” and opportunities to show grace by clamping my jaw shut? Umm… this one is harder for me. I’m pretty sure I know when these “opportunities” arise; but, oh, to keep my mouth closed! Ugh! I know that when I fail, I also have the “opportunity” own up to my mistake and apologize (which is a lesson for another day).
Although there are many scriptures on these subjects, the issue in my case, comes down to application. So I begin with this prayer and practicing the steps I know in my heart to be true.
“Lord, please clothe my words with your grace and give me discernment in speaking them. Amen”