I talk a lot. Really, A LOT. I came out of the womb squawking and promptly fell in love with the sound of my own voice. By all accounts, I’ve been chatty from day one. I still remember being in fourth grade, riding the bus home and sitting next to my best friend. I was jabbering away and she said, “You have to stop talking! I feel like you’re draining all my energy!” For the first time, I realized not everyone loved the sound of my voice as much as me. It was a shocking moment.
I’ve often thought of that exchange since being born again. What exactly happened that led my 10 year-old friend to feel as though I was literally taking energy out of her body? “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12 KJV).
The Lord has shown me many things about my propensity to prattle. Sometimes it’s my wounds talking (something this blog’s dealt with previously), sometimes it’s pure selfishness, sometimes it’s zealotry, and sometimes it’s manipulation and control. This is a dealing that I’m brought back to over and over again, an ever-deeper repentance and surrender. And the hardest thing to accept is that each dealing is born of the wounding of another person.
There is nothing benign in my hijacking a conversation, or chaining someone to my soapbox, or holding a friend hostage to my tales of woe. It has taken the pain and hurt I inflicted on people I love to bring home the serious nature of my irresponsible and selfish tongue. And yesterday, the Lord allowed me to experience the full measure of a tormenting tongue to illuminate the plank in my eye even more clearly.
I learned that zeal for the Lord divorced from the Spirit can power a barrage of words from which escape is all but impossible. For 55 minutes, I didn’t matter or exist to this person. There was no heart connection whatsoever. They had something to say and wanted an ear and any ear would do. The “gun” in this hostage scenario was the order being placed, and the strategic use of “God wants me to share _____ with you.” When the call finally ended, I started crying. I felt drained, bruised and battered, and my heart hurt.
This person uttered no harsh word or overt condemnation of me, but the longer they pounded me with their Scripture-filled sermon, the more I felt tired and unloved and hurt. With every passing minute, they grew more energized. They took my energy and my time and left me a battered mess. I experienced for myself exactly what my best friend described so many years ago—and it was horrifying.
It has not been difficult to forgive this verbal assault, because I now see even more clearly how deeply I need to be forgiven for my own wordy attacks. It’s incredibly painful – and even more humbling – to realize how many people have similar stories to share about their interaction with me. I can’t change anything, including myself, but I can receive the Blood and let Him continue His work in my heart. And I can thank God – really thank Him! – for reaching me in ways that make everything so clear.