A Case of Foot in Mouth Disease

James 3:6
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of one’s life, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Often I have this problem of placing my foot in my mouth. It has been a lifelong affliction. It just is not the words I say but the way I say them. See I tend to react first then regret what I just said. At times I am not aware of what I am saying is hurtful due to my tone until I see the reaction from the other person standing in front of me.

I used to excuse this behavior by saying that it is just who I am. That everyone else is too sensitive. They should of known better than to ask me that or approach me blah, blah, blah. My temper was part of who I was, something that would have to be accepted. But that line of thinking is unacceptable.

Before I knew Christ, I was simply a ball of anger. And I confess, I rather enjoyed being angry. Even being mean to other people gave me a kind of high. Allowing myself to be miserable gave me the excuse I gave above. That old saying misery loves company is rather true. See when I felt miserable, I did everything I could to make everyone else just as miserable.

In the eight years that I have been a Christian, God has changed my heart. All that anger I used to cling to has dissipated. However, my temper can rear its ugly head from time to time, as it has recently. My first instinct is to say that its because I am tired. Or stressed. Or even hormonal. But the reality is I have to own these moments when my temper lets loose. I admit I felt rather at a loss on how to do this.

Then I lead at church’s camp. For the entire week each mornings devotional focused on the book of James. On the third day of camp we went through James 3:1-12 which focuses the use of our tongues. Specifically how our, my words can be either be life giving or death. Think about that for a moment, words are powerful. They can either be life giving or death.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but that makes me cringe. Flashes of how I have misused my tongue went through my mind as I lead my middle school girls through this devotional. It was not all condemnation though, as I also thought of all the words of encouragement. Words of encouragement that I have been blessed with and those I have also spoken.

I was also reminded that I can not tame my tongue on my own power. As with everything else in my life, I can not do anything with out God. It is too easy to turn to self reliance in these matters. To start thinking that God can not be bothered with my prayer. OR even worse that I can not come before God until I con-cure this tendency.

I compare this temper of mine to Paul’s thorn in his side. Something I long to have removed from myself and yet it is not. I have to lean into what it is God wants me to understand about the tongue. Not only my struggle with it but the struggle others around me have as well. To become more empathetic and giving of grace. To also continually seek God in this. It can be too easy to say I have failed forever in front of God when there is stumbling. What needs to happen is recognizing that in our stumbles there is grace.

I accept that at times in my life my tongue will cause me to stumble. That I will not always be the light to others I long to be. What I no longer accept is that this is acceptable behavior. That this aspect of myself is not simply part of who I am but something that can be changed. Something that can be used to possibly minister to others and show them grace in this struggle. As I pray I too am showed grace.

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