I've been teaching my kids the value of "no" and that saying it really brings more peace and freedom than saying "yes" all the time.
Lately, I've had to ask myself how often I practice this simple word. I like to cross things off my list. Yes, I'll do that. Yes, I can accomplish that task. Add one more job? Need some help? Sure. Yep, Uh huh. Yes! Good grief, I'm going to nod my way into the ground.
Don't misunderstand: I'm not a huge people-pleaser. I'm a huge me-pleaser. I have a certain set of standards and expectations that no one has built up but me.
And yet, when it comes to what I say, how I say it, and who I say it to, I'm far too indulgent. My "yes" carries over to my syntax, and I let my tongue's guard off duty. Have the day off! Have the year off!
For years--okay, my whole life--God has been convicting me of my words. Do your words bring life or death? Do they heal or destroy? Do you even really care?
I'd say I was sorry, apologize to the unlucky recipient or to the Lord, but I knew it would happen again. It's just who I am. What can I really do about it?
But who I am has died, and someone new should be taking residence (Col. 3:3). Where is the Spirit coming through?
Amy Carmichael posed this test to herself. Are my words kind? Are they true? Are they beneficial?
See, I'd focus on the middle question and give myself a pat on the back for "opening someone's eyes" to their own deficiencies. Helpful, thanks.
Sunday, God took my heart and my tongue and said, "These two are not matching up. Let me clean it out; let me make you new. You can't, but I can do it."
Per Linda Dillow's prompting (Satisfy my Thirsty Soul), I memorized Ephesians 4:29: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.
I needed to start saying "no" to my mouth. And when I started doing that--with constant prayer for help--I started realizing how much of what wanted to come out was either critical or negative.
So, starting this week, I am letting God sweep out this false belief that I always have to be a critical and sarcastic person, that I always have to point out my children's faults, that I have to condemn others (and myself) who "don't make the mark." I am starting to replace those words with gentle words, patient, merciful, and uplifting words. After all, I want my words to bring life, not death.