I sat there as only one of two women coaches in the room. There were about 20 of us, coaching girls softball ages 7 to 15. We had recently finished the fall season where I had told my assistant coach to never step foot on a field where I was coaching. He constantly undermined my authority, which came to a head one night where he threatened me with physical harm. Yes, this was kids’ sports at its finest. So back to this meeting. We were all there to be confirmed as coaches for the Spring season. That assistant coach was also present. He asked to speak before we were voted in by the board. He went into a tirade about me and how if I were to be confirmed as a coach, he would go to the city parks and recreation board and have our field permit rescinded. He and the president of the association got into a few aggressive back and forths. I, however, spoke not a word.
He finally sat down. A vote was taken and I was still a coach. Afterwards, a number of the other male coaches came up to congratulate me – for being so brave and not getting into a yelling match. They were very impressed. I was escorted to my car where I sat for a minute and finally took what seemed like was my first breath after the hours long meeting. I hadn’t spoken because I could barely even breathe. I had been so scared I couldn’t speak. I didn’t know it then but God was protecting me. He knew had I spoken up among all those men, my “hero” status would’ve instead turned in to “shrill siren.” By keeping my mouth shut I accomplished so much more.
How many times have we looked back at a conversation or disagreement and thought, “if I had just kept my darn mouth shut, I wouldn’t be in this situation?” I don’t know about you but I don’t have enough digits to keep track. While others may struggle with not knowing what to say, others of us say too much.
This needs to be tattooed on all our foreheads so that when we are talking (or yelling) to each other we can “get” the message. I read recently the concept that words are just the outward expression of our hearts and minds. When you see someone screaming in a police officer’s face these days, I think how shriveled their hearts must be. They are literally out of their minds spewing hatred to another person. When we have a false sense of righteousness, not true righteousness from the Truth of God’s Word, we get into areas of entitlement, judgement, self-worth, and envy.
Our words matter and we shouldn’t use them to just fill up space or hurt people or say things to make us feel better. I once worked with a man to whom silence was a way of life. It made me very uncomfortable; my youthful self always needed to fill that void. A topic or question would be thrown out and he would go silent. Meanwhile, I’m across the table babbling away. I definitely did not have spiritual maturity at the time. Through life experiences and a pursuit of God’s wisdom I am learning to enjoy a bit of silence. A bit. As a parent, I struggled with this powerful tool. As my kids got older, I realized silence could sometimes be scarier than a mom yelling on and on. And when I yelled, filling that void, I said hurtful things. Things that I can never take back.
That last part needs repeating – when we are cursing others, we are cursing people WHO HAVE BEEN MADE IN GOD’S LIKENESS. And when we yell, scream, say hurtful things we do so with lack of grace, mercy and forgiveness. But if we are faithful over small things – like our tongue – and use them to bless others then God has promised to make us rulers over bigger things. If we can’t stop corrupting our whole body — hardening our hearts and going out of our minds– because we can’t control that little flappy part in our mouth, then why should God give us more?
I heard a pastor give a challenge the other day called “What If?” It goes like this:
- What if we decided to stop cursing, right now, forever?
- What if we decided to never say another negative thing?
- What if we decided here and now to never complain?
I bet a whole lot of people around us would be blessed. But that all sounds sooooo difficult! Not when you have God by your side. Not when we walk in the steps He wants for us. Not when we decide to live the life He calls us to. Yes, we will be tempted. Yes, there will be trials and tests. Because without those how do we know we are victorious?
In other words, when we live in God’s world, accept and practice His teaching, and turn to Him for guidance and prayer, it will be His Words spoken when we face trials and temptation. Or maybe, no words at all. We have the mind of Christ inside us. We need to stop pushing Him aside and let Him rule that little, flappy rudder in our mouth. And only then will be sent on the right journey He has called us to.