“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses.
Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.
Oh, that you would choose LIFE
so that you and your descendants might live!”
Sharp and hurtful words flow from my mouth, angrily washing over his dry and thirsty heart-soil. Undammed, they find the lowest and most vulnerable places, saturating deeply, corroding…destroying.
He turns and walks away from me in forced silence, letting me have the last words.
Slumping my body down on the steps, I hang my head in anger and shame.
When will I ever learn? My God, can I ever change?
My choking throat is just the prelude to the flood of tears I know will follow once I hear the door slam from below.
These were not the words he needed to hear from me before he faced another long day.
This is not how I wanted to respond–How on earth am I back here again?
Through the tears, I look down to the peaceful face of the infant in my arms—this tiny LIFE my body brought forth only weeks ago, and I ask myself:
How have you, who were designed to be a life-giver, become so skilled in sapping it from those you love most?
And to my spirit, the Word speaks:
“From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”
With Holy Spirit conviction pressing, repentant words are soon spoken, and love, once again, covers a multitude of sin.
Yet long after amends are made, my spirit cries to the Lord for help, because the reality is:
I KNOW this is a matter of life and death.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Prov. 18:21)
And what I want…
what I really want, is to choose life.
I want to bring life.
To speak life.
To my husband. To my children. To every thirsty soul He puts in my path.
I want to be who He designed me to beas his daughter–a Life-Giver.
Women speak approximately 13,000 more words each day than men do. (1)
I can read it right here in black and white print on the page, but it’s not like I need someone to point it out to me. It’s something I (and most women) already know.
And it’s not just because we want to talk more as females. It’s because God wired us to.
It’s fascinating. And it’s scientific fact. The Almighty LIFE-GIVER—He who spoke life into existence —has created us, as women, with a special God-likeness: a peculiar aptitude for speaking.
Brain research proves that until about at 8 weeks in utero, there is nothing which distinguishes a baby boy from a baby girl. But at 8 weeks, baby boys experience a “testosterone bath” which washes over the brain, flooding and damaging the corpus callosum–the bundle of nerves which connects the communication and emotion centers. This surge of hormones forever changes the way in which males are able to speak and express emotion. Of course, females do not experience this testosterone surge, and this area of the brain is left fully intact. The result is a larger and more advanced corpus callosum, causing females to be more emotionally charged than males, and, you guessed it—more talkative. (2)
There’s more. I read that for women, verbal communication releases feel-good hormones in our bodies, so that females find the very act of talking to be therapeutic. (3)
Simply put: we were made with the NEED and WANT to communicate, and, in general, to communicate verbally more often than our male counterparts.
…Which leads me to believe that those around us—including our husbands and children—were meant to listen to us more often…and that God designed them with a need that is intended to be filled—or helped—by the words we choose to speak.
As women, we were designed, at least in part, to revive, encourage, strengthen, restore, uplift, and enliven those we love, with our speech.
Essentially, to speak LIFE.
But, oh, dear sisters, can you see how the enemy has corrupted and distorted?
How, we, who were designed to bring forth life—specifically, to speak LIFE, are so often guilty of sinning with our tongues?
Would it be a stretch to say that the female gender is quite skilled in verbal destruction—that we have made an art-form out of nagging, gossiping, tearing down, complaining, and otherwise spewing poison with our tongues?
Oh, we know it, alright. I know it.
And I sigh and I think–I need a muzzle!
That’s really what I think.
And–I can do better, is what I decide.
I will do better next time.
But maybe these are just forced attempts to dam up a bitter well, and like all things that are attempted in the flesh (even if well-intended), it will soon fail.
And I read:
“The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison…” (James 3:8)
No man can tame. Well, there you go. I cannot tame mine and you cannot tame yours. No man can.
Ahhh…but the Lord assures:
“I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst!” (Hosea 11:9)
Hallelujah that we serve a God who knows the intimate recesses of our hearts (for the mouth only speaks what the heart is full of )and that He is able to search and reveal, purge, cleanse, and yes, tame our unruly tongues.
So I cry–
Oh, Lord, reveal the poisonous and bitter wells within my heart, and cleanse me from within.
And I pray, as Isaiah prayed—
Take the coal, and cleanse my lips!
But it will hurt, my flesh cries out!And my own body, and this child in my arms, reminds me that bringing forth life is always painful. It is…
a laborof love.
But I know that just when the pain is the greatest, new life is ready to come forth, and oh, how glorious and pure and beautiful that life is.
I am comforted that Christ our Lord understands this pain—
He knew there could be no glorious resurrection life without the pain and agony of the cross, so for the joy set before Him, He endured it, even unto death.
Do we truly believe that“We always carry around in our body the deathof Jesus, so that the lifeof Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is (also) at work.” ( 2 Cor 4:10-12)
Can we [by grace] surrender to the cross, knowing He is birthing resurrection life anew and afresh in our own hearts so that we may issue forth life to others?
Or, perhaps, does it all just seem too…impossible? (Indeed, it is!)
But could we ask in faith?
Couldn’t we start by just askingfor Holy Spirit-sensitivity in the area of our tongues?
And in the moment when He answers (and He will), and we feel the sting of His conviction, couldn’t we then confessour sins to one another?
Will you ask and confess with me? Will you committo stopping, mid-argument, even mid-sentence, when you are convicted of speaking death instead of life? Yes, it will hurt. It will hurt our own pride mostly. But, oh how powerfully we can experience resurrection life when we obey!
Proverbs says: “The mouth of a righteous is a well of life“(Prov.10 :11)Could we ask Him to quiet our spirits, still our unruly tongues, and then obey by simply confessing our sins, one to another?To stop mid-coversation when we find we are tearing someone down, and to ask the listener for forgiveness?To stop arguing, and go to our spouse, place a loving hand on theirs and confess—
“I am sorry. I know that what I said was hurtful and wrong. I am sorry for acting the way I did and for using that tone of voice. I want to be a support and an encouragement to you, even if I feel weary or hurt or discouraged. I am sorry for speaking death instead of life to your spirit. Will you forgive me?”
To stop yelling, and instead, bring our children up close, look them in the eyes, and confess to them—
“Mama is sorry for losing my temper and for yelling at you that way. It was wrong, and it was not Christ-like. Will you forgive me?”
Then watch as hearts soften and love and spirit-life bursts forth from such a cleansed well!
Oh, dear sisters, let’s ask to be cleansed, and commit to confessing the sins of our tongue, so that in this dying–this carrying around of the death of Jesus in our flesh—we will experience a cleansing flow of His LIFE-giving water within our spirits, and witness the miracle of sharing that life with others.
Lord, thank you for your never-ending grace and mercy. We ask that you would reveal our sins and cleanse our hearts again. Help us to be the life-givers you designed us to be, and “may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing unto YOU, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Amen.
(1) James Dobson, Bringing Up Girls, (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers Inc., 2010) 33
(2) Ibid, 29
(3) Ibid, 33