What is my problem? Why can't I control my tongue? I'm such a failure! Thoughts like these ripped through my mind as I sat weeping in the Wal-Mart parking lot. This night alone with my husband had been nothing like what we had planned. Somehow we had found ourselves in an argument.
Somehow? My tongue had done it again. I had let one comment go, but by the time the follow-up came, I was armed and ready for battle with the sharpest tongue ever. Defensive me! I couldn't hold back. I slashed and hacked until the carnage I saw finally stopped me.
The meal at our favorite Italian restaurant was ruined.
I felt crushed, defeated, hopeless.
After the restaurant we drove to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. I decided to remain in the car and let him go in. As I sat there, waiting for him to return, I groaned outwardly and inwardly, realizing what I had done. Again.
I rummaged through my purse until I found the piece of paper I was looking for. On it was a verse I'd been memorizing for the Bible study I was leading. Ironically, the study was about the destructive power of our words. I pulled out the paper and read it aloud: "If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil … Search for peace, and work to maintain it" (1 Peter 3:10-11). I slunk even deeper into my seat.
"God," I cried out, clutching my scrap of paper. "I can't do this! My tongue is uncontrollable! How do I make this work for me?"
I know that God's Word is a powerful weapon against sin and against the enemy of our souls and marriages. But I needed to know how to really make it work for me and my marriage. I needed to figure out what was missing.
How could I activate God's Word so it would really work not just in my life but in my marriage? After that argument and the tearful confession in the parking lot, I determined to learn all I could about using the Scriptures to the full extent of their power in order to give God control of my life and marriage.
I discovered that just as hotel room keys must be activated in order for them to work, following some basic principles helps open the door to letting God's Word effectively change me.
1. God's Word can't work if I don't use it. That night at the restaurant, I struggled with my number-one nemesis, my tongue. In the heat of the battle I had worked at seeking peace for a whoppin' five minutes … then I had let loose! I wasn't interested in thinking about what Scripture had to say to me. All I could think of was defending me. I wasn't in the frame of mind to really look within and see if there was truth in what my husband was saying. Oh no, I was too busy fueling the blaze that was scorching both of us. It took cooling-down time and introspection for me to realize what I'd done. Instead I should have prayed for God to help me listen and stay calm. And if I found myself moving into defensive action, I could have asked for a break.