Have you ever woken up, looked at the time, and immediately gotten pissed off? Did you take it out on the first person who crossed your path? Or maybe that's only happened to me?
One morning Tom and I were scheduled to be in Belize City to meet up with people coming in on a cruise ship and we absolutely had to leave the house by 9:30 that morning. Which is why I was frustrated when I saw that it was already 8:45. As the realization set in that I had missed my alarm my anger began simmering. I went from simmering to boiling as I stripped down to jump in the shower only to find gross looking water about an inch deep in the bathtub.
Does Tom know the tub is clogged? Where is he?
Wrapped in a towel, holding a plunger with one hand and my towel closed with the other, I tried to unplug the clog to no avail. It simply would not drain fast enough. I grabbed a washcloth, a bar of soap, and turned on the water in the sink and washed off. After cleaning up I got dressed as fast as I could. I made my way out to the living room to see my fully dressed husband sitting there engrossed in whatever was on his iPad. And I lost it. I went off about him not waking me up, the water in the bathtub, and us needing to leave on time. I knew what he was going to say about the pipes and humidity and that just made me even more indignant. He said what I thought he would say and of course I had to fuss some more because I needed the last word.
Stomping off to the bathroom to brush my teeth I felt like a pressure cooker releasing its steam. Grabbing the nearest tube, squeezing hard, my toothbrush was quickly covered with a gooey white substance. Shoving the toothbrush into my mouth, wondering why the paste looked as if it had melted, I silently cursed the humidity here in Belize. As soon as the brush hit my mouth heat began to form on my tongue and in my gums. It wasn’t toothpaste that I grabbed. It was muscle rub. I spit out what I could, grabbed the tube to move it to a safer spot, washed off my toothbrush, found the toothpaste, double checked that it was actually toothpaste, put it on the brush all the while continually spitting out the taste of muscle rub. It was quite a sight I’m sure.
My grandmother would call that a whooping from God. And I knew right away I deserved it.
Proverbs 13:3 reminds me that, “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”
That happened back in January during a 21 day period of fasting and seeking God’s plan for the new year. At the end of each year I pray for a word that will guide my thoughts and goals for the new year. I had been given the word Connection for 2017. As the new year dawned I was reading through the Psalms and was inspired to write a few songs. I knew that I was being called to a deeper connection with God, self, and all those I love. And yet 5 days into 2017 I blew it with my words.
I cried out to God in prayer, Lord, I don’t want to be like those who sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their bitter words like arrows. (Psalms 64:3) Help me not to let my tongue sting like a snake; with the venom of a viper dripping from my lips. (Psalms 140:3) Help me to always remember that the tongue can bring death or life and that I will reap the consequences of the negative or positive words that I use. (Proverbs 18:21)
As I write this I can laugh at myself, grateful for that humbling lesson, I realize that I have a muscular organ that needs to “relax”. The tongue is one of the most powerful muscles in the body and it is impossible to tame it on my own. My words and my attitude were critical, caustic, and careless. I had failed that morning because I neglected to connect with God, my husband, or myself. I allowed anger at myself for missing the alarm to ignite a fire that led to using an unloving tone with someone I dearly love. Fortunately, we had an hour long drive together on the way to Belize so I was able to confess my frustration and ask for forgiveness. I know that Tom does not like waking anyone up. He had set a time limit and was going to wake me at 9. He knows how quickly I can get ready and decided to wait and let me sleep. He knows how important sleep is to me due to my fibromyalgia. My muscles are always tense and sleep helps them to relax. He’s on my team and is not against me. I know that.
This year of connection has led to many lessons, large and small. I cannot connect with others through my arrogance, self-righteousness, or pride. I must take a deep breath and count the cost of my words before I speak. Making connections takes humility. Making connections takes vulnerability. Making connections also takes courage. Connecting with my husband means turning toward Tom in love rather than turning away in times of frustration. I'm still a work in progress. But, I pray that my lesson in the taming of the tongue will serve as a warning for someone else.
P.S. Don't forget to double check what's going on your toothbrush!