This is such a difficult lesson for me, but it’s obvious to me that it is one that the Spirit is pushing me to work on. For years, I was a hothead; snapping a curt response or flying off the handle at really little things of no consequence. I noticed when my kids came along that my episodes were more frequent. Not a great place to be. Definitely not where I wanted to be nor the kind of example I wanted to be setting.
It has taken years of prayer, practice and patience – none of which I made a regular habit back then – to make even the slightest bit of progress. But, I’m thrilled to say that with Heavenly help, I have made progress. Notable progress, which encourages me to press on and keep pushing forward to make even more progress.
In our Bible study group, we were discussing the story of Jezebel, very likely one of the least likable ladies in history. The lesson took us into James 3, where we discussed the importance of a guarded tongue. Wooh, that struck a nerve, I tell you! James 3:9 says “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.” Ouch. How many times has that been me? Too many.
There is hope – there is progress and there is the gift of another day. With a new day comes another opportunity to guard my tongue, pray, breathe, pause, carefully approach my responses in those situations where I’m tempted to resort to my old ways. In a span of only a few days, there were several instances when I was able to (with God’s grace) let things go, breathe in and out while saying Jesus’ name and just let things go without any incident. And you know what, I am a more responsive, obedient Christian when that is my perspective. That’s when I start to think about why a person is doing or saying something where I would respond inappropriately – rather than getting angry or hurt, I see them as a fragile child that God loves as much as He loves me and that changes everything.
I came home and studied through James 3 and then went into the other noted verses, from the Psalms and Proverbs – where today’s title passage settled in and grabbed a hold of my heart. And God reminded me that when we pause to look back on the progress we’ve made, we should rejoice in that moment. So, I did. As a woman, it’s so easy to beat myself up of a lack of progress focus on the 1 (or 2 or more) times when I don’t respond the way I know I should and want to. But I know that without the grace of God every day, I cannot do anything. And when I cling to Him and keep him front and center, everything goes in a whole different direction than if I were trying to paddle alone.