I realized quite suddenly that I have a bad habit! It is one that involves my tongue and affects my mind and my mood. It also has the potential to negatively affect other people. Those are good reasons to break it.
I have a habit of including unnecessary negative details when giving a report about an event. I can make a positive change to my life and others’ lives by breaking that habit.
How It Happened
- I was at a training meeting where important information was being presented. I needed to hear and remember what was being said.
- A distraction occurred that made it very difficult to do so.
- I decided to move away from the distraction and closer to the speaker.
- Someone else addressed the people involved and the room became quiet.
- I learned what I needed to know.
- Toward the end of the meeting, this surprising thought entered my mind, “You don’t need to tell your husband about the bad behavior of others when you get home.” I knew instantly that the words came from the one who knows what I am going to say even before I say it. (Psalm 139:4) When the Lord speaks, I listen! As I agreed with Him, I felt a strange sense of excitement and peace.
- When I got home and Dave asked how the meeting went, I said “fine” and told him a few things I had learned.
I confess that my usual response to, “How did it go?” would have been different. I might have said,”Fine.” and then added, “But, you won’t believe what happened…” Then I would have given negative details that, in the end, did not even affect the outcome. He would, no doubt, have agreed with me that others had been rude, and his opinion of someone else would have been tainted by my report. In this case, it was over and I needed to let it go without repeating it.
A Positive Change
I’m still excited about the difference that will occur in my life as I make an intentional effort to not repeat negative details that are in the past. They cannot be changed and they don’t need to live on. Unless there is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed, which was not the case this time, I can avoid telling the juicy details that, truthfully, reveal an attitude of superiority in my heart. I can love the other by covering over their offense and not come away feeling offended. By eliminating negative reports, I will feel more positive, more joyful, more peaceful.
What’s the Big Deal?
By deciding not to include unnecessary negative details, I will
- Feel better about myself.
- Spare other people some negativity.
- Be obedient to Jesus.
As I conclude this post, this thought comes. Assuming that I have sometimes done or said something that irritated someone else, how do I feel about the possibility that they later gave a negative report to someone about my behavior? If I am to treat others as I want to be treated, then I must give up grumbling, gossiping, and tale telling. It may sound like I’m being hard on myself. Not so! I am grateful for the revelation and excited about taking tighter control of my tongue.
Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3