How to Hold Back Our Words
The little girl bounded into the living room. Her grandmother waved goodbye to the girl’s mother. Skipping into the kitchen, the small girl scrambled onto a chair and smiled. She opened her mouth and out tumbled a hundred words. She began to tell her grandmother all about her day, her toys, her baby brother, and everything else. The older woman just nodded alone and listened. Throughout the morning and even during the lunch the tiny chatterbox continued to talk. When her mother came to pick her up, the girl’s grandmother said, “She never stopped talking! The whole time she as here she talked my ear off.”
That little girl was me. My grandmother used to laugh at me and how I talked the whole time I would come for a visit. Even as a young girl, I loved words. Growing up I would write and listen to music. Books were so dear to me. I read almost every book I could find in the children’s section of the library. Words. They are so powerful. Even the words I do not say have power.
A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.
I love sharing my feelings. Sharing and venting are not the same thing. Sharing can turn into a pattern of complaining quickly. Plenty of Bible verses talk about complaining, but when I read this verse, I thought about how I use my words. As a mother, do I withhold words of praises? What about words of anger and frustration – do I withhold those words as well?
I find it a hard balance sometimes to not praise my children too much and never correct them. Or I over-correct and never praise. It is important that we use our words correctly. Matthew 12:36 gives us a warning: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” We will be judged by our words. Our words matter.
If I tend to fall on one side of this balance beam, it seems to be on the side of over-correcting. I need this reminder in Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” In all our words, it says, we are to give thanks. Giving thanks to God, but also cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving in our hearts. As I become more and more grateful inside – my words that come out will be more gracious and sweet. Be swift to praise.
As a little girl, my problem was that I barely listened.
James 1:18 says “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.” We were born into God’s family through the word of truth: the Bible. James continues in the next verses: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20). If we were born of the truth of God’s word, we are to be swift to hear and slow to speak. In context, James is not saying we should simply not talk at all – but when we are frustrated and angry – be slow to speak.
Mothers know that lashing out with our words in anger and frustration is wrong. As Proverbs 29:11 commands, we are not to just vent all of our feelings of frustration. We are to hold them back. How do we do this? Look in the mirror.
James 1:23-35: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
Look into the mirror of God’s word. I did. And I did not like what I saw.
Remember, Grace is available for our past mistakes. No need to wallow in self-guilt. BUT we do need to move on and ask God to change our hearts.
Here are some tips I’ve found helpful when my feelings are trying to take control and led me down that path of “venting it all.”
1. Remove yourself from the situation.
2. Cry alone (after you’ve removed yourself) – don’t scream.
3. Take deep breaths.
5. Ask forgiveness.
I am not calling for perfection here. I am not calling for judgment either. I am only calling out to all of us who want to live a more Christ-like life. Take courage, dear momma, you are not alone in your struggle in this area. We all want to do better. Simple reminders will help us when the temptation comes to explode the next time the toilet overflows and leaks into the basement. Or that time your 2-year-old peed three time in an hour all over the floor (three separate places)…..yes those both happened to me in one day.
Be kind to yourself and rely on God’s strength to help change your heart. Remember, as hard as it might be to do, Proverbs 29:11 is true: A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.
Hold back the anger and be swift to praise.