Wednesday, April 24, 2013


The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. . . It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. - James 3:6a, 8b-9

My feelings were hurt.

I'd spent all morning doing one of many jobs on the to-do list here at the house. It's a job I actually really like doing (unlike, say, cleaning toilets), because this job involves being outside. This particular morning, the weather had been lovely and I'd had no pressing obligations to make me feel like I had to rush. I thoroughly enjoyed being in the fresh air, chugging through this chore.

Then, after dinner that evening, someone at the table commented to a visiting friend that "Oh, we don't really care about ______ at our house. We kinda just let things go. No one really takes care of it unless it gets really out of hand."

I was frustrated. Did you not notice the work I did today?

My feelings were hurt. So, you think no one cares? I care!

I was mad. This isn't a chore that you ever really help with, so why do you even have an opinion about it?

I felt belittled. If no one cares but me, then why am I doing this? Is my work of such little consequence?

My frustration that evening didn't spring from the chore itself - it's something that needs to be done, something I like to do, and something I'll continue doing. My frustration was - I felt unappreciated.

And so, a couple of days later, I unloaded my frustration on a friend. I told her about the incident, about how so-n-so hurt my feelings, about how I was thinking I'd just stop doing __________ until somebody else decided it was important to them.  Blah, blah, blah... And I cried.

When I got home from my friend's house, I texted her: "I shouldn't have mouthed off. Forgive me for dumping on you."

She texted back: "That's okay. Sometimes we have to vent a little."

Sunday morning during the prayer of corporate confession, the congregation - including me - read aloud together these words:  "We have failed to honor you, the God who gives us every breath and sustains our every step."

That hit me like a slap in the face. Every breath I breathe is a gift from God, and yet I so often use that very God-given breath to complain, to gripe about how someone else has done me wrong. I've got a bad case of spiritual halitosis.

If my life is God's, if my time is God's, if my very breath is God's, who am I to question how He chooses to appropriate these things? Rather than getting my feelings hurt and spouting off at the mouth, why can't I just thankfully perform the work God gives me, whether anyone else cares or notices or not?

"Where many words are present, sin is not far off; but whoever restrains his lips is wise." - Proverbs 10:19a

I can relate to the prophet who cried, "Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips!" Not only do I need the righteousness of Jesus to save my lost soul - I need Him to save my lost lips.

Jesus, help me to speak less. And when I do speak, help me to choose words that honor you and that are life-giving to others.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Fr. David Wilton says that complaining is not a Christian behavior. Ouch. How dare he stomp my toes!