Despite research, we humans still believe we can multitask really well. We can text and walk. We can pat our head and rub our stomach. We can be looking at something (our phones) and hear something else entirely (our professor), or we can be typing a blog while catching up on Agents of SHIELD (not that I know anything about that.)
But one thing we have never been able to multitask is our mouth. Simply put, we can’t say two things at once. I mean, using subtext and subtleties, we like to use the expression that we can say two things at once, but we really can’t. We can only say one word, or, if you’re skilled like me, a hybrid of real words to make something like “gr-ood!” (a mixture of great and good I’ve used to answer the question “How are you?” in the hallways at church.) But we can only say one syllable at once.
We can’t say two things at once, but the bible has a lot to say about our mouth saying two things. You know that bible verse “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing” (James 3:10-11)?
Back when, I had a major problem with my mouth. It was too often, too loud, and wayyy too negative. All the time. God knew that if I was going anywhere for Him, that thing would have to be tamed. Especially the negativity. That had to go like yesterday’s garbage. (In my case, the “cursing” could apply to negative words AND actual cursing, but mostly negative words.)
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say nothing at all” is cute coming from a bunny and all, but it’s not very helpful as a tool when you’re an opinionated loudmouth like I am. So that advice never really worked for me. I tried just faking it for a while, but here’s the thing: pretending to be someone you’re not is EX-HAU-STING. I had to forge a different path if I was going to curb my mouth problems. Then I thought about a faucet. In a faucet, if you have too much of one temperature, you can either turn DOWN that temperature, OR you can turn UP the other temperature. (Unless you’re in England.) So, since turning down the temperature wasn’t working, I decided to use my gift of gab to bless instead of curse. I was going to turn UP my blessing.
This actually worked pretty well for me as a tactic, because, like we said above, you can’t multitask with your mouth. So once I had committed to saying a blessing, I had to say it. And weirdly, it actually would help me focus on, let’s say, the 1% of the plan I liked instead of the 99% of the plan I hated...you know, so I had something to say. A weirder thing happened: I became so used to blessing people, it became weird to curse or speak negatively. Even my mind became affected. I learned to overlook the negative in favor of the positive.
Let me give you the hardest people this is to put into practice with: my husband and my kids. When you live that much life together, it’s so easy to focus on the negative things they do or don’t do. It’s so easy to break down your filter and say every negative thing you think. Meanwhile, we keep to ourselves all the things we love about the people around us. This principle has taught me to flip-flop this behavior. Instead of just focusing on the chores my husband is ignoring, I choose to thank him for the chores he IS doing. Instead of screaming at my kids that they’re making a mess, I choose to celebrate when they share toys. I’ve even started blessing them before they go to bed. I literally tuck them in, give them a kiss, tell them they are more than conquerors, they are strong and brave, they are sweet and gentle, and I love being their mom.
Andy Stanley (kinda) says it like this: blessing and encouragement is all from God. Who are you to stop someone’s blessing?
This week, be intentional about blessing each person you meet, no matter how short the interaction is. You’ll be surprised how quiet the negative voices become when you allow God’s voice to flow freely in your life.
And with Colin Firth, WE OUT! See you next week.