"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." Proverbs 31:26 (ESV)
When I'm trying to control someone or some situation, I've noticed I have a little trouble controlling my tongue.
For instance, the other day the dishes needed to be done. If I'd been the one at the sink, I'd have washed them in the proper sequence I learned in Home Economics class—from least to most soiled. Instead, my son, a smart preteen, was up to the challenge.
He didn't give me an attitude when asked to do the dishes. He wasn't disrespectful, didn't drag his feet, and was doing the job. So why was I tempted to tell him in a harsh tone he was doing it wrong?
Because he was failing to do it my way.
He started with the grimy pots and pans, then moved to the plates and silverware. Finally, he had to bubble up more water to spit-shine the glasses last. While working he lolly-gagged, trying to stack some plastic cups in a pyramid.
As I watched his unconventional ways, I could feel irritation welling up inside. An unkind reaction was itching to come out; one that was not tempered with the Holy Spirit. If I had not caught myself, I could have easily let my momma mouth take over and blurted out:
"What are you doing? Don't you know it uses way more water to wash the dishes in that order? Plus the water is filthy now!"
"Stop playing stack-up with those cups. Ugh! Why do you always have to play while you work? You're so slow."
What was really going on? I wanted to be a control freak and fire off words that would have conveyed unspoken thoughts.
I think the only way to do the dishes is my way.
I see different as wrong.
I interpret a preteen being a preteen, with a slight distraction of fun, as "slow."
Any time I unload on junior (or anyone for that matter), it has the potential to damage our relationship and plant seeds in his mind of his mom's view of him, whether verbalized or implied (lazy, wasteful, distracted, and slow). It does not, as today's key verse states, come close to resembling a woman who "opens her mouth with wisdom and speaks with kindness on her tongue."
This does not make for a happy home and I've come to know that it's better if these scenarios go down much differently.
So let's back up the minivan and replay that scene again with a fresh dose of perspective and a God-honoring, Spirit-controlled response in keeping with Proverbs 31:26.
As I see my son doing the dishes in an illogical order, I can make a mental note to myself to explain a way to do it next time that will save water, money, and time. When done, I can praise his efforts, keeping in mind his age and abilities.
I can intentionally point out particulars in his unique method. "I saw the clever way you stacked those dishes. You always make work fun. I wish I were more like you."
I can mentally ask myself questions that will empower me to maintain calm emotions and keep my "mama mouth" in check. Like ...
Does it matter now or will it matter tomorrow?
Will it affect eternity?
Is God trying to teach ME something? If so, what?
Can I pause and praise instead of interrupt and instigate?
Is there really an issue here that needs addressing with my child?
Am I just being a control freak and need to let it go?
The interaction would be a learning experience for both of us. It wouldn't damage, it would nurture. It would be wise. Kind. And there would be no lost time, no regrets, and no need to call in the United Nations peace-keeping forces for intervention.
This mama would be less control freakish and more Proverbs 31 womanish. It might not come easily—trust me it usually doesn't—but with the Holy Spirit, it is possible.
We can learn to speak with godly wisdom and kindness. And then there won't be any need for duct tape for the ole' mama mouth!
Dear Lord, may I purpose to temper my words with Your Holy Spirit as I interact with my family today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
If you liked this devotion, check out Karen's new book LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith. It will enable you to control what you should and trust God with what you can't.
Reflect and Respond:
Which of the above questions do you most need to ask yourself when you are tempted to over-control and, as a result, use unkind words?
How will you respond differently the next time you are about to speak in an unwise or unkind manner?
Psalm 139:4 "Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether." (ESV)
© 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105