My Tongue Needed a Fire Escape

I have a confession to make.

Believe me, it’s not an easy confession. It’s confession of a sin I’ve never heard other moms confess—which leads me to think I was a really, really bad mom. Can you tell how hesitant I am to admit it? But in learning to deal with this horrible habit, I learned a very important lesson I’d like to share with you.

My confession: I used to swear at my kids. (Cringe.) Because I still feel the need to protect my image a little bit, let me clarify. I never used that one really, really bad word. I hate that word! To me it sounds like verbal rape. Also, … well, I suppose I could spend time trying to paint an accurate picture here, but the truth is, it just isn’t pretty no matter how much I try to dress it up.

Aug 7 lemuel-butler-515Photo by Lemuel Butler on Unsplash]

I wanted to blame my kids or the situation. I wanted to justify myself with, I can’t help it; the words just pop out of my mouth before I can stop them. Though it felt that way, I knew it wasn’t true. After all, I didn’t talk that way at church. I also knew God held me responsible for the things I said. Having memorized 1 Corinthians 10:13 as a teenager, I was convinced that He had built into me the ability to control my tongue.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
(NASB)

One day I was doing an assignment for a women’s Bible study group. The passage we studied included James 3:10.

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, THIS SHOULD NOT BE.”
(NIV)

I knew it was time to deal with my tongue.

So I had a little conversation with the Lord. Lord, I keep failing at this. I believe your Word and know there’s a way for me to muzzle my mouth. But I need your help in figuring out how. Right here. Right now. It’s time to get to the bottom of this.

Then the Lord taught me a simple little trick. It starts in your mind long before you ever get into a heated situation. …

You have to prepare.

Then He suggested I pick other words I could use. I needed to choose those words when I wasn’t angry so they’d be ready to grab and use when I was. Sort of like having a bag of tools handy at my side.

I never came up with a list of appropriate words. It was enough for me to realize that the way I could control myself in irksome situations was to prepare before such an incident ever arose. Frankly, it was enough for me to realize I really could keep bad words from popping out

In fact, this led me to a deeper realization. Any thoughts I had given attention to would eventually find a way to sneak out of my mouth when I least expected it. The key was to …

Not allow ungodly thoughts to loiter inside my head in the first place.

I learned that when an inappropriate thought or word passed through my mind, to say (sometimes out loud), Nope, that’s not landing here! I then intentionally replaced that thought with what God would think. I still do this.

A friend recently reminded me of a quotation from Martin Luther our former pastor once shared:

You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.

We all have sinful ways.

Yep, we need to call it what it is—sin. Ungodly impulsive reactions: words, facial expressions, or other behaviors. The time to replace these responses is in calm moments. It’s during peacetime we should identify our poor responses, create good ones, plant the new ones deep into our brains, and, practice, practice, practice.

When we’re in the middle of a firefight, smoke keeps us from seeing the escape route God has for us. So before the battle ever begins we have to acquaint ourselves intimately with that route. We need to be able to turn to it blind—even in our sleep.

Aug 7 Escape Route

When it comes down to it, the best way to prevent curses from flowing from our lips is to plant praise deep in our hearts.

I don’t know about you, but that’s something I can do.

This Week’s Refill

Sometimes when you sip a cup of warmth, the contents can turn a bit tepid. So how about a top-off of this week’s cups? It’s Thursday, the day I re-serve the warmth shared throughout the previous six days of the Write 31 Days challenge. That way if you missed anything, or simply want a refill, the offerings are here for your enjoyment.

oct-13-warmth-refilled

Friday, Oct 7, offered that only when we look to God’s promises can we illumine our disillusioned hearts.

oct-7-illumination

Illumination for a Heart Disillusioned


Saturday, Oct 8, served a bitter/sweet cup, challenging us to mourn the family we never got in order to embrace the one we did get.

oct-8-grief

Hope for a Heart Grieving


Sunday, Oct 9, encouraged us to battle isolation by meeting regularly with a group of friends who understand our plight as SAFE moms.

oct-9-family-of-god

An Invitation for a Heart Isolated


Monday, Oct 10, shared how I learned to deal with my anger.

oct-10-anger-untied-g

Peace for a Heart Angered


Tuesday, Oct 11, offered an iced drink of encouragement that sometimes a cold heart is necessary.

oct-11-living-water

Validation for a Heart Chilled


And Wednesday, Oct 12, served a reminder to not stress when we’re not enough because God will more than abundantly supply every need.

oct-12-supermom

Release for a Heart Self-Reliant


Feel free to take your time soaking in the warmth of God’s graciousness, served in my little nook of the world. There’s nothing better than enjoying a cup with a friend, so feel free to take a seat and share your heart. My cup is warm but my heart is warmer—eager to hear your thoughts.

Peace for a Heart Angered

 

cropped-write-31-days-cover.png

“I can’t imagine you being angry,” I heard whenever I confessed my greatest shortcoming. “You seem like such a mild and even-tempered person to me.”

Oh, but I was often angry! You can ask my kids. A word about the quiet ones: they do have a voice; and they have a heart that feels deeply.

My anger seemed to have a mind of its own. It would spring out of nowhere without any warning. Fits of rage would be followed not only by excuses and remorse, but also by confusion as to how I exploded so quickly and why I couldn’t seem to control it. Before I had kids I rarely got angry so once I started battling it as a mom it was easy to blame my kids. At the same time I knew that excuse was totally unacceptable. I was determined to get to the bottom of it—if I ever had time.

Well, time eventually found me—the time I got so angry I struck out at my child in an physically abusive way. The next day I called my therapist who directed me to an anger management class. What a difference that class made!

oct-10-anger

First, I learned that the root of anger is fear. What a relief to learn I wasn’t a horrible monster. That in itself was enough to lower the voltage of my power-packed reactions.

Next, I had to address my fear which was driven by pain from my past. Anytime a situation similar to a painful experience from my past occurred, fear would signal me to do whatever necessary to prevent further pain. I had to deal with the past in order to function well in the present.

I also learned that angry outbursts do have warning signs. When something triggers our anger, hormones are released sending out stress signals to other parts of the body. Everyone’s different, but if we pay attention we can notice a tightening of the stomach, chest, hands, legs, shoulders, or other body part. In short order these same hormones dull the brains ability to think clearly, but there is still time to prevent even that if we can notice the signals our body is giving us.

This information also encouraged me tremendously. Learning that anger is actually a physiological response that gives warnings and can be controlled, helped remove the “I’m an awful person” lie that had further fed the pain and fueled my anger.

After coming to understand the cause of anger, I learned to identify how those causes made me feel: inadequate, rejected, unwanted, etc. All lies from the enemy of our souls—the enemy of our families. I then learned how to take truth from the Bible to combat these lies.

oct-10-anger-untied-g

We are not angry because we are some sort of Hitler-ine. We are not angry because we are a self-centered diva. We are not angry because we are a proud Queen of hearts. We are not angry because we are a lesser person in any way.

We are angry because we are hurting.

But, we know the Healer. And this Healer? He thinks we’re awesome. He knows us by name (Isaiah 43:1). He calls us His children (1 John 3:1). He calls us friend (John 15:14). He even throws a concert when He thinks of us.

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17, NIV

As long as I took the time to sink into His loving embrace, anger could not come near me. I was accepted and safe. Pain lost its sting, fear lost it’s grip, and anger had no fuel.