This year I’m trying something new for Lent. Rather than something consumable, I’m giving up something more destructive: Harshness. The reason? As I’ve said many times, my family is in the middle of a huge transition. We’ve changed churches, the type of ministry we do, the school our daughter attends, the way our very lives are structured.
With all that transitions comes a lot of stress. Just making dinner is stressful when you don’t know where all your pots and pans are. Plus, our moving company, Movers USA, was and is absolutely horrible. No one anywhere should ever use them for any reason whatsoever (that’s not me being harsh, just truthful, and having a desire for my good readers to not go through what we are going through). Anyway, all that to say this; in the midst of these monumental changes and their accompanying stress, it is easy — for me at least — to be short with people and say some things that later I will wish I hadn’t said. So, I’m committing to being a person of ever-increasing gracious speech.
As I’ve written before, speech-acts are important to the way we imitate Christ. Colossians 4.6 reminds us to “Let y(our) speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt…” for example. Therefore, we can’t say any old thing to anybody in any way we want. In Colossians this is particularly important to “outsiders” of the faith.
I’m learning this Lenten season that as I focus my words around not being harsh, I’m noticing more the full spectrum of other things I should not say. In the midst of conversations, I’m mindful of whether what I’m about to say may be hurtful to someone not in the room, or blasphemous or slanderous or gossip. Sadly, I’m coming to terms with how lose my tongue is. James was right, the tongue is hard to tame. And my sense is that there is something lost in my being when I say , “I love you,” to my daughters at night with the same tongue that was harsh to someone else that day.
Yet while all these revelations are painful, this is what Lent is for; to help shape our lives after our master, Jesus.