Training My Tongue

but no human being can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so. James 3:8-10


My kids are young. I haven’t been a mother that long. But it doesn’t take any time at all to realize that the parenting process is about sacrificing and dying to self. Sanctification is baked right into the role. My schedule, my free time, my sleep, and my finances aren’t just mine anymore. I guess they never were. I’m always preparing for, thinking about, and bending my days around my kids. I don’t always embrace the sacrifices, but they’re a given now; at least for this baby/toddler season. To be sanctified is to be made holy, to be made more Christlike. And raising my family will present countless opportunities for sanctification. I don’t want to waste them.

This feels especially true in my words these days. Again, it didn’t take long for me to realize that these little chuckleheads will repeat anything I say!  A few weeks ago, I caught my two-year-old apologizing constantly during play time. She’d say to her doll: “I’m sorry, but it’s time to sleep now.” To her teddy bear: “I’m sorry, but you can’t ride in my stroller today.” I asked my husband, “Why is she apologizing all over the place?” “She sounds like you,” he said. Gut check. I apologize when no apology is necessary, and my daughter has started to do the same. So now, I’m trying to rid my speech of unnecessary apologies. Not, “I’m sorry, we’re out of bananas,” but “Bananas aren’t on the menu. Do you want watermelon, or apples for snack?”

There’s nothing like having my kids around to keep my tongue in check. If I cuss under my breath at the crazy driver, my girls will think that’s okay. If I criticize my reflection in the mirror, my girls will learn to think harshly about their bodies. If I make a sideways comment about my neighbor, my girls will learn to be rude and judgmental. By training my tongue right now, I’m hoping my kids will have less of a job in training their tongues later.

But this works the other way, too. The other day I was at the grocery store, and my cashier had the prettiest, salmon-pink manicure. ‘Her nails are lovely,’ I thought to myself, but I didn’t compliment her. That got me thinking; how many blessings have I withheld this week? How many times could I have made someone smile, or made someone feel special and appreciated, and decided not to? For what reason? So I wouldn’t make someone uncomfortable? I’ve never resented a genuine compliment. So I could avoid some perceived awkwardness?

Not anymore, I’ve decided. I want to be an encourager. I want to speak words of life. I want my kids to see me tossing kind words around like confetti, and leaving trails of gratitude wherever I go. I want them to see compliments as ordinary bright spots in the day. I don’t want them to think twice before saying something encouraging. I want to be their role model in this. I want to do better. To that effect:

Natasha, you are a joy-filled, Christ-centered, truth teller. I appreciate your hard work, and DNG is a more beautiful ministry because you’re a part of it. 

Cathy, your strength, and kindness, and optimism point everyone to Jesus. You are radiant inside and out. Teach me how to shop for clothes, because your wardrobe is next-level.

Allie, I admire your love of scripture, and knowledge of the Word. I honor the time and effort you spent to gain the wisdom you have.

Cashier at my local Aldi, your manicure is lovely, and so are you.

Will you join me? Will you be more intentional in blessing others this week? You don’t have to go around drumming up compliments that aren’t genuine. If you’re anything like me, you already think several compliments a day. Why not just say them? Let’s be a community of women known for our grace-filled words. Let’s toss them around like confetti. Let’s use our tongues to bless others.

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