I did not have plans to write a part two to my original blog on the idea of pride versus confidence, but the more I kept talking about it with family and friends, the more I felt the need to dig a little more into this topic. Last week, I wrote on how pride and confidence can easily be confused with each other in terms of asking for help. The concept of independence manipulates us to believe that life is intended to be done on our own. In doing life on our own we fail to ask for or seek help. That is the struggle in pride of doing life.
Pride comes in all forms. It can easily portray itself as confidence, but the truth of the matter, when looked into deeper, it’s a deep rooted issue that fights with humility. One form in particular that I am all too familiar with, is the pride of the tongue. In the physical sense, the tongue is considered the body’s strongest muscle. In the spiritual/biblical sense, I believe it similarly holds it’s ranking in strength. The tongue can bring life, but it can also bring tremendous hurt and agony. The Bible talks on this. I went ahead and listed a couple of my favorite versus that illustrates the strength of the tongue:
- Proverbs 13:3 – Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
- Proverbs 18:19 – A brother who has been insulted is harder to win back than a walled city, and arguments separate people like the barred gates of a palace.
- Matthew 12:36 – I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.
- Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
The pride of the tongue is the hardest to humble. It’s the most difficult to tame. To be frank, it cannot be tamed. In James 3:8, the author states, “no one can tame the tongue.” This is not a means to discourage. Rather, it reveals the truth of the deadly strength found in the tongue. While it is a small part of the human body, it can do the most damage. It boasts, it defiles, it condemns and it destroys. It can also heal, mend, provide security, restore, bring hope and joy. Interesting how a small part of our body can do great lengths of good and can also do so much damage. I’ve experienced this for myself first hand. Story time.
I will be honest. It is really hard to share these stories because it does require great vulnerability into my personal life. I promise I am not this awful human being, but the goal of sharing these stories is to provide some context to how imperfect we can be. Let me first say, I have not tamed my tongue and I will never be able to do so. That’s not to say I am not defeated by my tongue. I do strive to live speaking words of life and salt, but I don’t always get it right. One of the times I didn’t get it right was a couple years back in Glorias Restaurant at the Arlington Highlands. My family reading this will know exactly what I am talking out. To make a very long story short, I was upset. No, I was angry.
For those of you who know me, you will know it takes a lot to get me angry. I get annoyed about things every so often, but anger stems from brushing things under the rug that never got resolved. THAT’S NOT HEALTHY! LET ME TELL YOU! Well, the Glorias servers saw the pride of the tongue in full force that day as I dished out a healthy heap of hurt, condemnation, destruction and bitterness. As the words formulated in my heart and connected to my brain, I put little to no effort in filtering. I let it rip. It was so bad I was shaking and crying in anger in my “rightness.” Prior to that, I NEVER blew up. On anyone. I’ve always been even tempered. My clean streak was over. My dad, mom and brother sat in silence amazed by the filth coming out of my mouth and pride that stood before them.
While there were no “curse words,” the words coming out of my mouth might have well been curse words because I knew from their faces I had crushed them. I remember my dad driving me back to my apartment at the time, in silence. My mom sat in the front seat and didn’t say a word. My brother sat beside me, wounded. And I sat there, in rightness. I was confident I was right. I was right in how I felt and I was right in what I said. At least that’s what I was trying to convince myself.
That day I took a 4 hour nap. I never take naps, but that day I did. I emptied so much that I had nothing left in me. I was weak and hurt. When I woke up from hibernation, the reality of what occurred hours before hit me. I replayed the showdown and guilt overwhelmed me. No matter how tough we pretend to be, when we know we’ve done wrong, our consciousness to some degree or another confirms we “have a heart”.
I remember calling a friend of mine and told them what happened. She didn’t say a word. She just listened to me as I tried to convince her that I was right in what I did and said. After my whole spiel, she simply replied, “Vashti, want to know what I just heard? I heard a tongue spoken from pride.” I was entirely confident my friend would be on my side. Even more so, I was entirely confident that I was in the right. For crying out loud, I was the victim. I’m the one that was hurt. After that conversation, my friend left me with some simple advice. She told me to humble myself.
The first step in any pride issue is first admitting you are wrong. The second step is fixing what pride ruined. And the third continuous step is striving to never make the same mistake again. I did just that. Reluctantly of course. My apology didn’t fix things as I presumed it wouldn’t. It took some time for my mom, dad and brothers to heal. The damage was that bad. The pride of the tongue got the best of me.
Has that ever happened to you? Has pride ever taken over that you confidently say things with no remorse? With no filter? You’re so confident in what you believe and stand for that you believe you are right in your “rightness?” It happens to the best of us, honestly.
Before I conclude, I want to emphasize this. If you are a Christ follower, we need to be mindful how we use our tongues. Over all I believe we all should be mindful, but for Christ image bearers, there’s a calling to live outside of the ordinary. There’s a charge to live unlike the rest of the world. Not in superiority. Quite the opposite of that. In humility. James 3:19-12 states,
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
We cannot truly live for Christ, and live and speak like the rest of the world does. No matter how confident we are in our rightness, the confidence of the tongue should never destroy lives. The confidence of the tongue should bring life, speak truth in love and restore. The pride of the tongue, while cannot be tamed, it can be “managed.” We manage the tongue by making a conscious decision to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to wrath. A lot of times we hurt those around us with the words we speak because we refuse to think before we speak. We are so confident (actually prideful) in our rightness that we dismiss the filter of the heart and spew whatever comes to mind. We cannot easily take back words once spoken. Learn from my experience. I said some things that even I am surprised of. I wish I can redo that day. I wish I was calm and rationally spoke in love. But I cannot redo the past. I do however, have control over what I speak moving forward. Practicing thinking before I speak has saved me many many heartaches and have saved the hearts of those around me.
Have you hurt someone with the words you’ve spoken? Do you struggle with the pride of the tongue? How can you make right with those you’ve hurt? How can you practice managing the tongue?