Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! — James 3:9-10
I’d been having huge, grumbly blowups. Mostly on Fridays. It was not pretty. This had been my worst day for grumbling in a long time. Friday was the end of a long week, and the house was always a disaster. On Thursdays we had therapy all day, followed by me serving at the teen mom support group at night. I usually came home exhausted, got the kids in bed, then collapsed into bed myself. Reality would hit on Friday when all the mess from Thursday (and typically days before that) displayed itself in unrelenting, grubby chaos.
One day frustration rose within me as I surveyed the house.
“Whose shoes are these? Why is leftover food from last night still on the table? And why is there dirty underwear by the back door?”
The children jumped to attention. They rushed around picking up things, and I could see on their faces they didn’t want to do anything that would make me more upset. Too bad even their frenzied cleaning didn’t work to calm my spirit. I ranted for at least ten more minutes, pointing out scattered toys and each offending piece of crumbled paper, and then, as if I could see a projection of myself in my mind, the reality of how ugly I was being filled me with shame. I paused and glanced around. By this point my kids were yelling at each other. I’d effectively spread around my bad attitude.
It’s Friday… learn to deal with Friday. The thought filled my mind, causing me to still my other thoughts.
Friday came after a long week of homeschooling. Friday came after a long day of running and serving. And why did it make me so upset? Because by Friday I was physically weary. Would it be possible to greet Friday, flaws and all, and just accept it? Or maybe even prepare for it — and conquer it without grumbling — as I had previously encouraged my kids to do? It’s not as though I didn’t understand what triggered me or made me upset. And that’s when the bracelet caught my attention. We had made them to remind our family not to grumble. I can do all things through Him. That meant Fridays too.
By the time we gathered around the table to start our homeschooling day, my kids were somber. No one wore their typical smiles, and I knew I had to seek forgiveness.
I cleared my throat. “Mommy didn’t do a very good job today. My grumbling got out of control. I didn’t act nice. I didn’t control my tongue. And the Bible talks about this.” I opened my Bible to James 3:2 and read,
Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. — NLT
“The Bible says that?” Grace looked surprised.
“Yes, it does. I didn’t do a very good job controlling my tongue this morning. Will you forgive me?”
“We forgive you,” their voices called out.
That was one thing about my kids. When I did mess up and ‘fess up, they were usually quick to forgive.
“I didn’t do a good job of controlling my tongue,” I continued. “And do you know how hard it is to actually tame it? The Bible talks more about it. Listen to this.” I turned back to where I’d been reading.
Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! — NLT
I paused and lifted my head. “That’s James 3:2–10.”
“No way!” Fifteen-year-old Maddie’s jaw dropped toward her chest. “The Bible really says that? I don’t believe it.” She extended her hand, motioning me to put my Bible into it. I did. She found the passage and her eyes grew wider. “Wow, it really does say that.”
“Yes, and what do you think all that means?”
“Our tongues are hard to control?” Ten-year-old Sissy posed it like a question.
“That’s right. Good job listening.”
“If you don’t watch what you’re saying, you can end up in the middle of troubles,” Maddie said.
“When we’re grumbling, what are we not doing?” I asked.
“Praising!” they all said at once.
“Well, now we’re going to praise together. I’m going to read a few lines of this verse, and you tell me what you notice.” Then I read Psalm 136:1-3 to them.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
Alexis waved her hand. “Oh, after each part it says, ‘His love endures forever.’ ”
“Yes, exactly. And it does that through the whole chapter — all twenty-six verses. So I’m going to read the first part aloud, and you all say the second part aloud. Got it?”
They all nodded, and I began. I read through the whole psalm, and after each verse they said, “His love endures forever.” As we continued my heart swelled with joy. Tears rimmed my eyes to hear my children praising God in unison, and I began to wonder why I hadn’t done this more often. I also wondered why I had let Fridays take such a hold of me.
It was amazing, really, what could happen when I was willing to humble myself, explain how hard it was to control one’s tongue, and then encourage my kids to turn to praise instead. It didn’t just change the moment. It changed the day.
I looked down to my bracelet again. Yes, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Written for Devotionals Daily by Tricia Goyer, author of The Grumble-Free Year.
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Does that morning sound familiar to you? It’s so easy to let fatigue and tension steal what should be normally relaxed and happy times with our families, friends, and coworkers. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Come share your thoughts on letting the grumbles go and being thankful instead. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily