I'm often reminded of a lesson my mother taught me when I was young. We were sitting at the dinner table, had just finished eating, and she got up and grabbed this book of different family activities; it became an informal after-dinner tradition due to how often we participated. At that particular time, the lesson was to purge all the toothpaste from the tube…and then proceed to get it all back into the tube through the same opening it came out of. I remember thinking, "Well that was easy to do! Getting all the toothpaste back in, though?! Impossible!"
What I learned that evening is that my tongue is a rudder that steers a ship. It has the ability to control the course, the route, in which the ship is traveling. My tongue is a fire that has the potential to set a whole forest ablaze. My tongue is the strongest muscle I have because I exercise it the most. Our words are incredibly powerful—they can tear down and destroy, or lift up and establish. What we speak is a dead giveaway to the condition of our hearts; I believe that "from the heart, the mouth speaks". This is a sobering subject to write about because it's something I'm currently still trying to master—the art (if you will) of speaking words of life into people. Words that replenish someone with positivity, words that heal, words that are love in action. The question is, how does one speak the truth while remaining "in love" (in the sense of speaking lovingly as opposed to harshly).
I've known two kinds of people when it comes to the matter: unbelievably nice people who were known for their kindness, and brutally honest people who weren't very nice and unliked by many. The "problem" I have with unbelievably nice people is that, from the outside looking in, it seems insincere. No one can possibly be that happy ALL of the time! Maybe so, and in that case I need to know their secret. When it comes to brutally honest people who aren't well liked, at least they're real (maybe too real). Wouldn't you agree that there should be a healthy balance of both truth (which at times can hurt) and love (which we all crave)? If I speak the truth without love, it gets the message across but in such a harsh way that it cannot really be heard, much less received. If I speak with love and avoid pairing the truth with it, it's sentimentality; it affirms and reinforces, but keeps us in denial of our flaws. The key here, is finding that balance. And while it's impossible to try and stuff all the toothpaste back into the tiny opening in which it escaped, grace meets us halfway and carries us going forward.
I wish I could go back in time and take back all the destructive things that ever escaped my HEART and made it's way out of my mouth, but I can't. That's why each and everyday, now as an adult who hopefully has gained some sort of wisdom from her past, I try to be cautious of my aim when firing off darts. That's what words can be like if we're not careful. Knives that can cut open and disentangle the very make-up of someone beautiful.
The older I get, as the years fly by before my very eyes, the more I take the time to stop and contemplate about these things. How do I want to be remembered? What do I want to be known for? The past can't be changed, the words I've used as weapons to destroy others can't be erased, but the condition of my heart can. The desires of my heart can be altered to reflect one of pure beauty. I want to be known for what I did for others, and not for my own boasting. I want to do for others simply because so much has been done for me. What better way can I show gratitude other than bestowing the same love and grace overflowing my cup, to others?
My heart is what I constantly need to keep in check, if I want others to not be wounded by my words. Out of the heart, the mouth speaks. While it may be healthy in a practical sense (still beating, still pumping blood), if it's spewing out anything but love with truth, it needs to be reexamined. The purging process is a long one, perhaps life-long. It's painful, it causes you to see yourself for who you really are, it sucks. But, grace makes it bearable. And one day when I've reached the place of where I want to be with myself (living for the benefit of others), it will be worth the painful process.