Let your speech always be with grace…

Rosalynn LasleyFaith0 Comments

There have been many times lately where I thought I was supposed to be giving a lesson, but instead ended up receiving one myself. Sometimes it’s while I’m sitting to write for the blog, sometimes it’s when I’m being mom, and teaching my family, and sometimes it’s in ministry.

One Sunday morning, a few months ago I was serving in the 6th grade girls class at church.  We were helping give the girls a lesson on taming the tongue.  I wasn’t the one directly teaching that day, but I was part of helping with the illustration. It’s a good thing I wasn’t teaching, because the lesson being taught was one I needed to hear myself.  The person who was teaching that day had two girls volunteer to race each other.  Each girl was handed a paper plate, and a brand new tube of toothpaste.  When the teacher said “go” the girls were instructed to squeeze out the toothpaste as fast as they could onto the empty plate, and the first one who emptied their tube was the winner of the first round.  The girls squeezed and squeezed and within a minute or so, the room smelled very minty and a “winner” for that round was announced.  The teacher then proceeded to the second round where she handed each of the girls a plastic butter knife an told them “now scoop the toothpaste back into the tube.” The girls tried for just a moment before being completely dumbfounded by the request.  There began the lesson.  Once we have said something, we can’t take it back.  Trying to take back our words after they are said is like trying to scoop toothpaste back into an empty tube, with a plastic knife.

With technology as prevalent as it is, our words are often exchanged without ever passing through our lips.  We communicate through text, email, and social media almost constantly, so much so it’s become an era where verbal conversation can be a rare thing.  In person, face-to-face conversation is even more rare.  When we do talk we have things such as Facetime and Skype where we can talk to one another without actually being together in person.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Facetime and Skype are amazing things when physical presence isn’t an option but I think the lack of personal, human interaction has left a vulnerable space and created conflict generations didn’t have before this. When you eliminate in person interaction you eliminate physical cues such as facial expressions and body language to cue us how to proceed.  Some of those things may be visible in Skype or Facetime but they are completely missing when our conversations are written.  We can assume things are received one way or another and be completely wrong.  We can have a certain intention or implied tone behind our written words but when you lack audible tone, even carefully chosen words can be taken the wrong way.  There is also the flip side of impersonal interaction where we are able to speak more freely, without having to completely consider the consequences of our words.  It may leave you able to avoid reactions or emotions that may be unfavorable for you. 

The bible instructs us over and over again to tame our tongue, but I think we may not have realized that taming our tongue also includes taming our text, taming our email, and taming our social media posts or messages.  Taming our tongue doesn’t mean to strictly be careful with what crosses our lips anymore, but to be careful with all of the ways we speak to one another.

I am not a confrontational person by nature, and I will generally avoid conflict of any kind even if it is a constructive discussion, if I believe that what I need to say will be upsetting to the person I’m speaking with.  It’s usually not until I have reached my breaking point that I will explode with emotion and let my words have their own way.  I have been told many times that I have a way with words, but if I’m being honest I will say that, that is not always a good thing.  When I have reached my breaking point I can be very harsh, sharp, and cutting with my words, and the sad part is that I usually mean what I’ve said, even when I could have said those things more kindly.  I have found that I generally express myself better (especially if I am hurt) in written word.  I am usually able to construct my words carefully and season them a bit more, before letting them go. I must also say that, that is not always the case though.  Sometimes being able to avoid face to face conversation or interaction leads to saying things more harshly than I would, had I had to look someone in the eye to say it.

I have seen lately that with the help of texting and social media, a new breed of “courage” has emerged and that has lead to a lot of hurt, division, and misunderstanding. That sort of conflict may be possible to avoid, should we choose to tame our tongue.  I have seen that digital courage has lead to over-sharing details of our lives we might not share in a face to face conversation.  (I have learned the hard way that I need to share a whole lot less that I have been.) I have seen that digital courage has lead to abundant and public criticism of others who don’t think the same way we do.  I have seen that digital courage has lead to “tongues” running wild. I have seen texts or posts that have said things like “I’m just saying what everyone else was thinking!” We easily forget that not everything that is a thought, should be said. That is not what God has called from us.  He DOES want us to stand up for truth.  He DOES want us to defend what is right, noble, and pure.  He DOES want us to band together with brothers and sisters, especially when facing persecution, but He instructs us over and over again how to do that. 

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed,[a] we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
James 3:2-10
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3
I saw this on Pinterest shortly after the toothpaste example and it really is a sobering thought:
Are we breaking people with what we say to them verbally and in writing? We can apologize, we can delete our comment or posts, we can try to do what we can to restore relationships wounded by words, but we can never entirely take them back once they’ve been said.  Apologizing, deleting, and doing damage control only goes so far if the plate is broken (or the tube of toothpaste is empty). The plate can eventually be pieced back together, but the reminder of the break will be in the cracks. We can frantically try to scoop the paste back into the tube but that is extremely messy, very time consuming, and borderline impossible. If we are more careful with what we say from the beginning, we will have much less of a mess to clean up down the road. 
I know there are times when I have tried to be very careful with what I have said, and things still turned out differently than I intended.  There have been many times that I’ve said something with good intentions and had the other person disagree or be offended, but as long as we really try hard to be careful, and ask God to take charge over our words, we’re doing the best we can. 
Do you struggle like I do to be careful with what you say, even when the words don’t pass through your lips? Have you said something, texted something, or posted something you wish you wouldn’t have?  Is what you say graceful or are you quick to speak?  Have you found yourself having to apologize because you didn’t tame your tongue? I know we all have said something we have later regretted for one reason or another.  I pray that as you journey through your week, you will be more purposeful with what you say (in written and spoken word) and that what you say and share will bring glory and honor to our Father, and continue to encourage one another.  Please pray that I am able to do the same. 
In His Love,
Rosalynn

About Rosalynn Lasley

I've been happily married to my high school sweetheart more years of my life than believable. It's true what they say, time flies when you're having fun. God has blessed us with 4 children, 3 we have the pleasure of raising, and one waiting for us in Heaven. I have always enjoyed writing but my call to ministry came during some of my most difficult times thus far. Writing for Alaska Christian Women's Ministry helped me start to make sense of all that God has been walking me through, even when sometimes it's messy and painful. I never realized that telling my story, even the ugly parts, could be encouraging to other women until I started writing. It's true that God will make beauty from ashes, you just have to let Him. My writing is often serious, and sometimes heavy in nature, but in real life I'm usually the complete opposite of serious. I LOVE TO LAUGH, and say that humor is my unofficial spiritual gift. I'm fairly awkward when first meeting someone, but if I can make you laugh then I think we'll end up being excellent friends. I'm certain that my husband is the only person on earth that doesn't think I'm all that funny. If I can make him laugh, I'm a happy girl! I have the blessing of serving in the junior high ministry at my local church, and find it such a joy hanging out with those smelly young people, week after week. They bless my heart far more than I could ever bless theirs in the short amount of time we meet each week.

Leave a Reply