Wednesday, December 22nd
Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
~ Psalm 141:3 (NRSV)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
~ Psalm 19: 14 (NRSV)
The true test of a man’s spirituality is not his ability to speak, as we are apt to think, but rather his ability to bridle his tongue. ~ R. Kent Hughes
Better a little caution than a great regret. ~ unknown
“You have the right to remain silent…” These are the familiar words of the Miranda warning, the first words an officer is to say when making an arrest. Accused suspects are warned to be mindful of their words, that they may not later regret what they have said. Today we are cautioned to do the same; to keep from saying words that we will later regret. We are invited to choose the words that are more loving – and to choose to remain silent when those words won’t come. We demonstrate gentle love when we share gracious words but also when we refrain from spewing hurtful ones.
It seems we have a natural tendency to recall negative words more than positive ones. As I was researching information for this post, I found that anywhere from two to seven positive words are needed to negate or soften negative words. Coach Dave at Lifesource Coaches explains:
Neuroscience is now teaching us that when we face criticism, rejection or fear, when we feel marginalized or minimized, our bodies produce higher levels of cortisol, a hormone triggered by the hypothalamus causing a fight or flight reaction. Cortisol shuts down our reasoning ability and can cause us to either freeze or appease” according to Dr. Richard and Judith Glasser of The CreatingWE Institute (HBR June 2014). On the other hand, positive comments and conversations produce a chemical reaction too. They stir the production of oxytocin impacting our prefrontal cortex. This feel-good hormone elevates our ability to communicate, collaborate and trust others. Yet, because oxytocin metabolizes more quickly than cortisol, its effects are less powerful and long-lasting. That’s why it takes more positive conversation to overcome the chemical reactions of a negative one.1
Today, may we be aware of the power of negative words; may we be mindful to use our mouths only to bless. May we guard our words and “bite our tongues” before we say hurtful things. May we bear in mind the THINK acronym and discern whether our words are True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind before we allow them to pass from our mouths. May we continue to glow with steadfast love through the words we say – and the words we swallow.
Guard. How will you choose your words and your silences to be more loving today?
Prayer: Guiding and guarding God, I ask that you especially guide and guard my words today. May I say only words that are pleasing to you and uplifting for others. I also ask that you keep me mindful of the words I may say to my inner self. May your loving presence fill me with every good word and thought, that I may glow with gentle love within and without. Amen.