I was with a friend a few weeks ago and halfway through our conversation, I realized I hated the sound of my own voice.
Has that ever happened to you?
I felt like I was looking in on my critical, obnoxious self, wishing I could shut her up–but instead she kept going, going, and going . . . and I just wanted to put my hand over her mouth and say, “Ssh. No one’s listening.”
No, you don’t have voices in your head? Good, that’s probably good.
I’ve been actively trying to listen more lately, which sounds like a 3rd-grade-level task on relationships. And the more I actively bite my lips, seek to listen more instead of insert my voice when it’s not desired (or needed), the more I find just how ugly and cynical my voice can be.
And I don’t like it.
Recently, I cleared my Google Reader of all things overly critical (when nothing else works, I work in extremes). And while I had high hopes this would bring comfort because hey, I’m listening to more beauty, instead it brought to life just how much I put my mouth before my ears and how ready to spout out something negative I usually am. How ironic that beauty illuminated the disease of my heart.
A few mornings ago, while ignoring my alarm clock and reading Proverbs instead of getting out of bed, these words gripped me,
From the fruit of a person’s mouth his stomach is satisfied, with the product of his lips is he satisfied. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love its use will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18.20, 21 NET)
I think they stopped me because lately, my tongue has probably brought a lot more death than it has life.
So this is my promise and confession: I promise to try to bring life to the circles I’m in, relationships I have, and conversations I’m invited into. I promise to start with my heart, instead of forcing behavior on myself that my heart hasn’t caught up to. I also promise to try, but I warn you–I may need a slap in the face sometimes. I’ll probably be okay with it.
Where is your tongue bringing death instead of life? And what circumstances can you change to bring more beauty into the world instead of negativity and cynicism?