Does anyone else struggle hardcore with foot-in-mouth-itis, or is it just me? I'm not joking when, in my About Me page, I write that I'm either talking too much and end up saying too much or I'm so quiet people ask if I'm okay. I really haven't mastered how to be a part of a conversation or meeting in a normal-person way.
Recently, I was part of a group of people from church meeting about an idea for our young adults ministry and congregation as a whole. This group consisted of young, old, and a few ages in-between. The meeting was going fine, as expected, and we were about to wrap-up when out of nowhere I heard a few passive aggressive comments from some of the older folks in attendance about the young adults. They weren't necessarily mean or nasty comments, but they were definitely frustrating. I could sense the atmosphere of the room shift a bit with each one and I could see the discouragement and anger rising up in some of our young men and women.
Some of them began speaking out in defense and, honestly, I didn't blame them one bit - the comments were unfair in timing, very generalized, and based on assumptions. It was a disappointing and extremely discouraging situation, to say the least, yet I continued to sit quietly and let the young adults handle themselves. We were all done with the meeting, said our prayer, and starting shifting chairs to leave when I heard the conversation casually get brought up again. I could sense the tension and inched closer to the group that was talking about it. I listened to a few back-and-forths between younger and older and tried earnestly to stay quiet as I knew the Holy Spirit was asking me to do, but after a few minutes, I snapped.
In a clearly irritated tone, I tried my best to defend our group and suggest that maybe the situation wasn't what it was assumed to be. When I finally shut my mouth I could tell I had offended a couple people and I knew instantly that I screwed up. Instead of listening to God and staying quiet as He was asking me to do, I tried to take the matter into my own hands and fix it myself out of frustration. I thought, "if I don't tell them how much we do at this church and how much we care, how will they ever know?" and "if I don't say something, the young adults will think I don't care when they are being criticized!" But, in that moment, my anger got the best of me and I didn't take the split second I needed to call upon God and remember the truths in His Word that I have hidden in my heart to prepare me for moments like this. It wasn't until after I had already spoken that all of His promises came welling up inside of me like a flood. Scripture like:
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."
1 Timothy 4:12
"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
"Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity."
"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens [...] a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak."
He was reminding me, in that moment, who He is and that His job is to fight for us and our job is only to love and set a gentle example. Sometimes we just need to be still, let God do His job, and not position ourselves higher than we ought to by trying to do it for Him. Sometimes we have to refocus our faith and remember that His intentions toward us are always good and believe in His character - that He is who He said He is and He can do what He said He can do.
Listen, church... it is not our job to defend ourselves when the world, or even other Christians, come at us. We are promised opposition. Let me say that again... we are promised opposition (2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 4:12-14, 1 John 3:13, Luke 6:22, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, John 15:19, and I could go on and on). Never in scripture do we see Jesus justifying His actions with defensive words or arguments. What we see, instead, is a quiet, gentle soul who speaks only when necessary - usually in parables and always in love, serves the poor, loves His enemies, and shows grace to all. When He was feeling tired or weak, He retreated to be alone with The Father or fasted and always stood firm on the Word. He never acted out of His flesh, but always acted out of the Spirit. This is the example we are called to. This is how we should strive to conduct ourselves. Jesus Christ is our standard.
In my moment of frustration and feeling like my character and the character of those I love was being slandered, I was supposed to do as the Word says and stay silent and let my character speak for itself and trust that God was going to work on my behalf. I should have taken the minutes I had leading up to my big-mouth moment and leaned into Him, searched my heart for the promises He's given me, and put my faith in knowing that He is who He said He is and He will do what He said He will do.
I ended up immediately apologizing to the individuals I knew I upset, gave many hugs, thanked them for all of the work they were putting into the idea we were there to discuss, and confessed to them that my frustration got the best of me and I should not have done what I did. I cried about it on the way home and asked God to forgive me for my disobedience, lack of faith, and poor example of grace toward my brothers and sisters. But, let me tell you, I wish I would have just listened to God in the first place and saved myself the humiliation and regret and the thought that I may have done more damage than I even know.
This is why it is so critically important, as Christians, to know God's Word. I mean, to really know it - like you do all the lyrics to all of the songs on your favorite album or all of the lines to your favorite movie. Even Jesus knew how powerful it was when He was in the desert for 40 days and nights and defeated the enemy with it. Every single time satan tried to defeat Jesus, he came at Him with a lie and/or a twisting of the truth - to which Jesus immediately refuted each one with scripture, saying "It is written".
God's Word is our weapon against the enemy - not one another. So, like any good soldier, we need to know our weapon so well that when satan tries to get us to fall, our first instinct is to combat his lies with God's truth. We do this by spending time in our Bibles - reading it, praying about it, reciting it, memorizing it, singing it, sharing it, and getting it permanently hidden in our hearts (Psalm 119:9-16).
Please, learn from my mistakes. Let's mature in faith together by pressing into the Word of God and trusting in who He is then doing what He's asked us to do. Let's use Jesus as our standard, not the world. Let's love better.