Verbal Waste

toiletI had gone to the bathroom to take care of business. When I stood and flushed, the waste water suddenly rose very quickly to the top and began to overflow fast and furiously. Like a raging river, it made its way out the bathroom, down the hall, and towards the living room in record speed, destroying everything in its path. I tried yelling ahead to loved ones in the living room to “look out!” but it was too late. They had been swept away in the river of filth.

I had this dream back in Feb, 2004. I knew immediately upon waking up that it was God speaking to me. It wasn’t as if He hadn’t previously tried to get my attention. I just never stopped long enough to seriously consider anything He so patiently and tenderly shared with me before.

Until the dream.

The graphic symbolism clearly illustrated the reality of the grossness of my sin. It was a stench in God’s nostrils, and He wanted this shameless, relentless onslaught against his children to stop.

Now!

It broke my heart to see my sin as God saw it. I had been habitually using my tongue as a weapon to lash out at and ruthlessly wound others. Through no fault of their own, it often occurred whenever someone said or did something that triggered an unconscious, unresolved, emotional injury from my past.

I didn’t realize that I had been using these verbal attacks to try to make my family and friends feel the same hurt and pain I had experienced from others during my lifetime. It was a sick and twisted form of revenge, but on innocent people.

I was also unaware that I had stuffed all the wrongs done against me down deep into my heart. These things are never meant to be stuffed and permanently retained. Before long, they fester and make their way up to the top. When not properly dealt with, the mounting pressure continues to build and an imminent eruption is inevitable.

Because my pain and anger remained unchecked, I became more verbally vicious and brutal. The more hurtful, the better! I often shut down so I couldn’t feel anything. I eventually stopped caring.

But God cared!

And while He was greatly concerned about all those I had deeply hurt, He was also just as concerned about me. Because of His faithfulness to and love for me, I knew I could depend on Him for help. I certainly couldn’t rely on my own self-will or strength.

Change began when I acknowledged and confessed this problem area in my life as “sin.” It was the first step to my emotional and verbal makeover. I was eager to repent, receive God’s forgiveness, and allow Him to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. He actively began changing my heart. This put me back on the right path and gave me the fresh start I needed.

The next step involved the renewing of my mind. I worked hard to identify and eliminate the negative patterns and false beliefs learned throughout my life and replaced them with God’s truths. I dug through the Bible looking for anything I could find regarding the tongue and our words. I then cross-referenced scriptures and wrote them down so that I could read them repeatedly and meditate on them. I also used them as prayers back to God.

In addition, I bought every book I could find on the subject. I devoured these books, spending months in them. They provided greater insight and clarification for me during my long healing journey.

Lastly, it’s one thing to obtain a vast amount of invaluable information, but none of this knowledge is of any good use unless it is applied to one’s life. This means putting what one has learned into practice – daily! Hourly, if needed.

For me, it meant biting my tongue at times and saying nothing. For those of you who always have to have the last word, you know how difficult this is. It also meant taking time to mindfully respond rather than irresponsibly react. It meant apologizing immediately when saying anything less than what would be considered as kind. It meant using my tongue regularly to encourage, edify, and build up others.

Little by little, new habits were forming and becoming evident in my life. I began really listening to what others had to share and found beauty in the uniqueness of each person whether or not I shared their convictions. There were fewer conflicts in my daily interactions with people, which resulted in more peace and an increasing desire to really get to know my co-workers, neighbors, and the new people I’d meet at various community functions.

Do I ever fail? Yes, I do. But, thank God, I’m no longer anything like the person I use to be. And because it is now a personal conviction to use my tongue as an instrument of righteousness to glorify God, I look forward to my words being full of grace, seasoned with salt, and bearing much fruit.

If this is a challenging area in your life, I highly recommend the following resources:

PRAYER: Lord, Jesus, thank you for revealing my sin to me as you see it, and for loving me enough to help me change and walk in victory. Amen.

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