It's time, finally, to refocus and push the re-start button. Baseball season (my son's) is over. Once again, I have found myself in a place I don't like. Too focused on his abilities and talents and all that that encompasses and less focused on what really matters: Loving God and Loving Others. Big no-no! When we do this; we end up feeling empty, icky, and too far from Him -- Jesus Christ.
Yes, we can make ANYTHING an idol, even our children and their activities. I wonder when I'll learn the lesson and cease repeating the pattern. I can pray and prepare to do much better next time around. God is like that, you know. he will give us the "opportunity" to do things the better way until we are able to do so.
Today, (and many days this summer) God has spoken to me about loving and encouraging words vs. not-so-nice and even downright mean words. Seriously, I find it so much easier to encourage my clients, other women, audiences I speak to ... the list goes on, than it is to encourage my own children. I've even earned the title "crazy mom" this summer, from not just one child, but two. That's not a good statistic when 100% in question agree.
Seriously, sometimes I'm so quick to point out the "truth" that I use some pretty mean methods with little thought to the damage and destruction my form of "motivation" is reaping in their lives. Also, they both have been getting under my skin with some of their own issues. My responses haven't helped matters. At church this morning, I was reminded quite clearly, again, about the importance of speaking truth, not lying, and not using our tongue as a wounding whip. When we practice loving words and loving actions we become incredible testimonies for our Heavenly King. We can try harder to speak better; read tons of self-help books: go to seminars and classes; ultimately, though, only God can change the way we speak by changing what's in our hearts.
Consider for a moment how so many fires get started during the summer months. You only have to drive through a national forest to notice the signs marked either: green, yellow, or red. It's evident what season we're in right now. Fires are devastating. They can cause miles of damage, destroy homes, property, and even lives. Sometimes fires rage for days, weeks, even months during fire season. Yet these raging infernos are often started by one tiny spark. Someone carelessly throws a match down and before they realize what's happened it's burst into frightening flames of fury. Even worse, there are those -- we call them arsonists -- who purposefully start fiery destruction regardless of the future damage.
Aren't our words the same? One nasty little comment. An untruth. A rumor. Even a truthful comment spoken in angry haste can lead to a bonfire of burning hearts.
I have to admit I've become rather obsessive with telling my children what they should do. After all, I'm the mother, right? I spend more time searching for the stones in their lives and pointing them out than I do enjoying the diamonds that they seek to share with me. I don't want to be known as the "nagging mother." No one likes a nag. I don't. Do you?
So why do we end up becoming that which we can't stand? Because by our own power we cannot control our sin nature. We may seem "tame" but then someone or somethings pushes our buttons and we can quickly create an inferno of words better left unsaid.
Imagine a lion. Our pastor shared about a tape he had watched where tourists got their pictures taken with one huge "tamed" lion. All went well until on unsuspecting visitor stepped on the tamed lion's paw. That tame lion nearly mauled the man to death. His true nature came through under pain, under pressure. Granted, we aren't animals with inbred instincts, but we are human beings with inbred sin. It is only by God's power and grace that we can truly find hope for our dilemma. Without the power of the Holy Spirit helping us restrain our sin nature, we will continue to start fires.
So, what can we do? How can we tame our tongues? These are the tips my pastor shared:
1. Realize that ONLY GOD can change the way you speak
2. Respond to the Holy Spirit's promptings. (Have you ever felt that nudge or prompting that tells you to shut your big mouth? It behooves us to heed these promptings.)
3. Be accountable. (Let others know of your struggle. When you blow it, which we all do at some point, have others around you that will pray for you and give them permission to point out your sin in love.)
4. Cry out to God for help. (Psalm 19: 14 is great for this. "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
I know I've touched on this topic more than a few times. I'm guessing it's something we need reminders about. I know I do.
As we start our weeks, let us look for the diamonds and stop seeking the stones. If we've started a fire or fires, let us do our best to put them out and help clean up the damage our fires might have caused. Let's reach out to God and others for help in becoming the Princess Warriors for Christ we were called and created to be. After all, when there's a house fire, a truck with a team of firefighters come to douse the flames, a remodeling company helps restore the home ... it's a team effort.
Bottom line let's ask God to continue renewing our minds and softening our hearts. For as our hearts soften our words will not be as hard.
God bless you sisters.