Have you ever felt the words pressing on your lips from the inside out? They want to escape so badly. The need to say what you want to say seems all-encompassing. It is just a jab or a quip, but it doesn’t want to be suppressed. It has a power of its own…on you…and on the soon-to-be receiver of the message.
At any other point in time you could step outside yourself and see the words pressing to get out. You would shake your head knowingly. These words that have such a straight path are more like a weapon with red hot radar on its intended target.
From this vantage point, you can see the past and the future. You know that the words will never make up for the angst in your past. After they have landed, they will only create a worse future. It is a clear picture. More damage. No relief.
Where is the logic in allowing their exit?
This excerpt from the Book of James foreshadows it perfectly:
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 come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
But no human being can tame the tongue.
Christ knows, whether you see it coming or feel the words pressing to get out, you won’t contain them. It is the devil helping to pry your lips open.
So, what do you do? I don’t think it is going to work if you say moments after you deliver the jab, “I didn’t want to say it. The devil made me.” Besides, even if the target of your words ignores you or lets it go, you felt the feelings that armed the message.
I think that is what hurts the people close to us more than anything. It isn’t just that we would say it, we thought it. Even if the thought was as rapid as the words flying out of your mouth, they represent a growing negative. They reflect your heart.
And to me, the heart is the real problem here.
The heart is the source.
If our hearts are God’s, we have power over Satan. We just need to claim it. We should ask the Lord to work on our hearts to remove the negative feelings of the past. We can ask for our hearts to be healed of hurt, betrayal, shame, blame and all of the other emotions that drive the unleashing of our tongues.
I am not suggesting that you stuff it. You may be successful once or twice in keeping the words in. But all that the suppression does is build up the negative in your heart. At some point, as James so eloquently reminds us, the words will spill out. And if it is after much stuffing, it will be more like a huge bomb than a targeted missile. The carnage may be irreparable.
The only control is to heal at the source – the heart.
If you resonate with this feeling…the idea that you are having an out-of-body experience and you know the words shouldn’t come out. If you have ever felt that fleeting pressure such that the jab landed before you even realized it launched…if you just wish you had more control over your tongue…
…go back to your heart.
Sit down and write to God. What hurt are you feeling? Which person is likely the receiver of your tongue-lashing? Look for the root of the problem residing in your heart.
Do I have building resentment towards this person? What does our past together look like? Do I have un-forgiveness in my heart? Is my resentment even founded?
Am I hurting in general? Is my view of life negative? Is there something about myself I need to accept or forgive?
The key is to get to the heart of the problem. To understand where the feelings are coming from and pray for healing, forgiveness, or a different perspective. We need God to do surgery at our heart so we are not dependent on our tongue, that we cannot control, to be the gate keeper.
A pure healthy heart is under Jesus’ domain. If we set our hearts on him and follow his lead, the negative words never make it to our tongue. Over time, they never even make it to our hearts.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.