About a week ago this time, Josh and I were enjoying lovely Jackson, Wyoming. We were there to celebrate ten years of life together, and all was blissful and wonderful and perfect.
We hiked a lot. We ate a lot. We bought cool t-shirts that you will now see me wearing until Christ returns, and we went white water rafting. And that was about it.
The rafting was my favorite. We survived, first of all, which was good. It was ridiculously exciting and beautiful. Also good. And we got to know some new people. (You really bond with folks when spend a few hours hurling through rapids in a tiny rubber boat together.)
There was a retired military fella and his wife from the West Coast with us.
They were there to celebrate her birthday (she wouldn’t tell us how many), they both owned separate motorcycle shops, and they had a shared affection for using the word “Jesus” in moments of danger (which, unfortunately, occur a lot while rafting), excitement (also happens a lot), humor (we had a funny group), normal conversation that may have otherwise been dull, and/or when large and interesting critters were spotted on the side of the river.
So…it happened a lot.
The word was a catchall for them. And though I suspect they weren’t even thinking about what they were saying, I was.
Especially that one.
I cringed every time it popped out of one of their mouths, but I never said a thing.
We were all in the shuttle driving back from the take-out point on the river. We were exhausted and mostly quiet. Our driver was a talker though and filled the silence.
She rambled on about this and that and somehow her stream-of-conscious-style of solo-conversation led her to randomly mention a particular celebrity and his “worthless no-good son who can’t keep his nose clean.”
Motorcycle Man speaks up.
“Be nice,” he says. “That guy is a good friend of mine.”
Extreme awkwardness followed as Talky Driver attempted to remove her foot from her mouth.
Words matter, and usually less is more.
I brought up the situation with Josh later.
“Wow,” I said (feeling particularly holy), “Could you believe how much Motorcycle Man and his wife used Jesus’ name in vain?”
“I know,” he said, “but at least he spoke up to defend his buddy to the bus driver. We never said a word to defend Jesus to him.”
So. Shamefully. True.
Maybe even more so when they’re not said and they should be.
A day or so after the rafting, Josh and I had fight in the shadow of Old Faithful.
I’m not being dramatic.
We watched him spew his 150-bathtubs-worth twice before we finally had to spew a little of our own.
I wish there was a picture.
Oh wait. There is.
So that timely old geyser faithfully did his beautiful business in the background while we had the nerve to have an ugly, stupid argument.
And it could have all been avoided, if I had just held my tongue.
But I didn’t.
I disrespected my husband. And for my reward I got an argument, a few tears and a half-ruined day at Yellowstone.
So my mouth has been a problem for me this week.
Sometimes it was what I said. Sometimes it was what I didn’t say. Sometimes it was the way I said it.
For months I have prayed Psalm 141:3 on a daily basis, that God would “set a guard over my mouth.”
He is faithful to do it, but I am not. When I forget to pray it, I can tell.
Arguments at national parks ensue.
But God is a God of forgiveness.
Though He saw me sit there all spineless-like while His son’s name was repeatedly slandered right in front of me, I am not ruined because “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12 NLT)
Despite hearing me nag my precious husband to a breaking point, He is still “a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” (Nehemiah 9:17b)
And He knows I’ll do it again.
But, Praise God! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
So I’ll pray it every day, “God, set a guard over my mouth.”
And when I can’t manage such eloquent utterings, I’ll go with old standby:
When in doubt, shut your mouth.
That’s the t-shirt I should be wearing…
Obviously, I need your help. Got any other practical methods for keeping a muzzle on your mouth? Share it so we all can benefit, eh?