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Yesterday I saw ceramic sign in Target that said "Be Wise Be Kind Be True" and it reminded me of another sign we had in our kitchen when we lived on Mechanic Street in Marlborough, MA. It read: "Before you open your mouth ask yourself: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?" then I texted a friend to tell her and I followed up with, "I think I need that sign." So, here I am reminding myself and anyone who may be reading that stopping and thinking before you speak is a good thing and it is worth trying to master throughout our lifetime.
I am aware that there are people out there who "engage brain before opening mouth" naturally and the Author of Proverbs says, "even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." Then there are those of us that are a bit harder to train. Until well into my twenties, I regularly stuck not only my foot but practically my whole leg in my mouth. At the age of 27, I was hit over the head with a 2x4 and since then I have reduced my diet to toes, an occasional foot or two and a time or two of great indiscretion a calf muscle.
In the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions it states, "Nothing pays off like restraint of tongue and pen." I would have to agree because once the words are out of your mouth: you can't really take them back no matter how sorry you are. There is the verbal diarrhea. It can be forgiven but it is much harder for it to be forgotten. Fortunately for me, for the most part, I have been granted much mercy from most people that I have a relationship with as we practice forgiveness, mercy and grace with one another.
"Pause when you are thinking too quickly or feeling too passionately" is another good principle. If we take a moment to breathe, ask for wisdom, ask the three questions I have listed above, then I believe we can grow and become wiser. There are times I find myself hurting people unnecessarily with my reckless words. I never want to do it, but I do still falter.
Indirectly, this is one way to be seeking wisdom and most thoughtful people desire to get wisdom in order to live well. Perhaps if I keep on seeking to become wise it will help to keep me young at heart and in my mind and help me from putting my foot in my mouth. Wisdom tells me to respect the fact that words are powerful.
Another good question to ask might be: Are these words life-giving or death-blows?