I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten into trouble for what I’ve said. I don’t even do it on purpose. I just have nothing to hide. If people ask me a question, I tell them the truth. Sometimes I tell them the truth when they don’t want to hear it, or when they haven’t even asked.
One time, for example, many years ago, I was at a Bible study where absolutely nothing was glorifying to God. A woman from the Bible study was talking to me on the phone, and I said, “This Bible study is crap. Everyone is stiff, and their arrogance reeks to high heaven. No one is vulnerable, and everyone talks down to everyone else. I have learned NOTHING in an entire year from this Bible study, and this has never happened to me, because my deep love for God is so strong, I can always find something to learn. I don’t know how I’m supposed to grow spiritually under these conditions.”
When she hung up the phone, she called the Bible study leader’s wife, and gossiped about all the juicy information I had just said. The leader’s wife hung up the phone and called to gossip to the elders. Then the leader’s wife told her husband, who called my husband and punished us both by removing us from Bible study. My husband trembled when he got off the phone, and he asked me, “What did you say?!!”
I told him everything, and I got on the floor weeping, repenting in dust and ashes. My husband was reminded of the betrayal that happened to him in California, back when all his friends turned on him and his reputation was ruined. This was the worst time in his life, and he thought his life was over. Somehow I had made my husband re-live his worst nightmare. I had deeply wounded my husband, and I was so, so sorry.
I remembered the story of the Israelites, when they were wandering through the wilderness. They complained, and God’s fire flashed forth and burned them up because complaining is an offense against God.
As I lay crumpled on the floor, I asked God to purge me from my sin of complaining. And I would have done anything to turn back the clock and take back my words.
There was a meeting with six people where I publicly apologized for my sin. During that meeting, one of the men gave us unwanted parenting advice which violated the Word of God. (He noticed that my children had joy when they came to Bible study, and that we needed to make them more sober. And by the way, my children were silent during Bible study. If you know my loud children at all, you would applaud my husband and me for training our children in self-control in such an outstanding manner. We ought to have been encouraged instead of rebuked.) I saw his arrogance right there and then, and I looked at my husband to see if he’d noticed. My husband had a humble demeanor on his face, and he only wanted the ordeal to be over with. So I bowed my head and looked at the floor.
I usually only get in trouble for my words about once every two years; but when I get into trouble, it’s like an explosion, and my husband has to do damage control. People who “get” me don’t become offended, but they actually enjoy me. Some people even seek me out for advice because (ironically) they think I’m wise, and they know they’ll get the truth.
Last Sunday before going to church, I asked my husband if I could be myself again, or if I had to guard my words. He said, “Susan, you always need to guard your words.” I thought to myself, “But I have a blog… How can I write blog entries daily and guard my words at the same time? I would feel like I had shackles. I just want to breathe and live and be free. This is the United States of America. I should be allowed to have free speech…”
But so many times I wished that I could take back things that I’ve said, even if every word of it was true. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it needs to be said.
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3Tweet