Self-control, that is. That is this week's character attribute. To be honest, I've been kind of dreading this week since I started. This is an area that I struggle with A LOT!
It seems all my struggles with self-control center on my mouth. At one time, I couldn't control what I put INTO my mouth. I stuffed food in there to numb any negative feelings I might have. My scale will tell you just how many feelings I stuffed down and for how long!
God has done a real work in my life in regards to my food addictions. I still have days that I eat too much or get unbalanced. It's easy to do this time of year. But overall, I no longer am driven to eat. Usually when I start feeling that I want to eat everything not nailed down, that is a signal to me that I am feeling something uncomfortable that I don't want to deal with like anxiety or fear or worry or anger over something. Even though some feelings can be a little overwhelming at times, I am so thankful that God has set me free from that numb person I used to be.
I still have trouble with my mouth though, but these days, it is what comes OUT of it that is the problem! I am a verbal person. Ask anyone who knows me and you will probably hear that I am a talker. Being a writer, words are my medium. Like an artist with his clay or charcoals, words are how I process things, how I discover things, how I work through what I really believe and why. I am the typical think-out-loud type. And yes, I will admit it here, I do talk to myself. I pretend I'm talking to the dog so nobody will think I am crazy if they overhear me. lol
There are two sides of this coin that I struggle with - on the one hand, it seems so much truth is swept under the carpet for the sake of appearances or putting on a show. I despise fakeness so I tend to "let it all hang out", but sometimes, I let too much hang out. I have to remember that in my quest to be "real", there are others in my life - people I love and I am close to - who are NOT "let it all hang out" types. I can never let MY honesty become THEIR embarrassment. It's a hard line to find - sharing but not hurting my loved ones in the process.
Then there is the processing I do. I am one of those people that need to talk things through. However, this can shade into the area of gossip if I'm not careful. I'm not saying I am above gossip - sharing juicy tidbits just for the sake of sharing them or talking about someone in a negative way. Generally though, when I stray into gossip, it is inadvertant because I am trying to work something through in my own mind.
The Bible has a lot to say on the topic of what comes out of our mouths. Two verses though have stood out to me as I have been praying about this area- the truth will set you free and what comes out of our mouths is the overflow of our hearts. I think they address both areas that I struggle in too. Truth is important. I personally believe that we have way too many passive-aggressive people in our churches - people who smile and say, "Oh everything is fine," but inside sort of seethe and fester about perceived wrongs, or they don't want to let their mask of perfection slip. What would people say if they knew whatever it is that is causing them shame?
However, truth spoken has to have the right motivation. This is where the second verse comes into play. What is in our hearts comes out of our mouths eventually. We may try to hold it in, but eventually it will burst out - usually spilling ugliness on anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. Maybe you have never done this, but I will confess that recently I found myself talking about someone in a not too nice way. I knew immediately after this conversation that I was wrong - motivation was wrong, the way I said it was wrong, even just saying it was wrong. As I repented in tears, I vented my frustration with God. "Why do I keep saying what I shouldn't? Why can't I just shut up already?"
God, who is always gracious to show us truth and the right way when we ask, impressed on me that it was my heart that was the issue, not my mouth. My words, just like my eating used to be, were a symptom of a deeper problem. The person I had talked about had hurt me by her actions. In truth, I was upset with her but had never confronted her about it, so what came out of my mouth eventually wasn't too nice. I had a choice at that point - I could confront her with the truth or I could let it go. I decided to let it go because really, it wasn't that big of a deal. I'd just gotten my panties in a wad over something minor. But I had to address it, deal with it and move on; otherwise, I was in danger of spilling ugly words again.
The truth is I want my words to encourage others. I want my thoughts and speech to please God. But as Paul says I often don't do what I want to do; and do what I don't want to do. So this week, I will start praying a few verses that deal with my mouth.
"Let the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight; O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer." Psalme 19:14
"Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep a watch over the door of my lips." Psalms 141:3
"Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances." Proverbs 25:11
I'm praying that the words that come out of my mouth will please God and uplift others. Fortunately, I serve a God of miracles! :)
~ Blessings, Bronte