Quick to Hear (by Hannah Alexander)

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Have you responded to someone in anger recently? I don’t know about you, but I am in constant battle with my tongue. It tries hard to get away from me, and sometimes I don’t stop it in time. Kind of the way these baby pronghorn skitter away from me when I show too much interest in them. Yep, my tongue is like that.

The word picture of a wiggly pink tongue hopping away down the road might be a funny sight, or it could be gross. Creepy, even. For me,  it’s scary. That’s because there have been too many times in my past that I have allowed my tongue to destroy a critical interaction. A person can say pretty much anything, as long as it’s not out of anger or spite, and be forgiven. Silliness can be overlooked, but when someone says a harsh word in anger, that isn’t so easily forgiven or forgotten.

Our little house church has been studying the book of James this past month. There’s a lot to dig out of this book, and we’re only on the second chapter. We ended one of our Wednesday night sessions with homework: we were to meditate on the verse, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,” which is found in James 1:19.

I have a tendency to open my mouth before engaging my brain. It’s something most of us have to work on, sometimes for our lifetimes. If we cannot contain our words of anger, we are capable of leaving a path of destruction behind us in the lives of others, and in our own lives. We can lose friends, jobs, lose our own selves in the words we let loose on others.

If you’ve read my recent posts, you know that I love the outdoors and the wildlife. So I have been learning from my experiences here.  For instance, wild horses don’t stick around if you speak too loudly–sometimes not even if you speak at all. They’re wild.

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In my quest to get as close as possible to these to beauties, I’ve had to hold my tongue, or at least speak very softly and gently. Even whisper. And I know better than to make a full frontal assault.

So I’ve wondered to myself why I can be gentle and move slowly with these wild animals, and not control myself as well when it comes to human interaction.

And you know what? When I’ve done just that–treated human beings as I would the wild horses–in most cases it works!

You see, these horses aren’t the friendliest animals. They’re curious, sure, but they don’t want close contact with a human being. Can you blame them, considering the way some people behave? Humans can treat me the same way these horses do by using their words to keep me at a distance. If I respond harshly with words of my own, it would be the same as waving my hands and shouting at these wild animals. It will offend them. Remember that a soft answer turns away wrath. The good thing about the horses is that they don’t plot revenge as a human might do.

I’m curious. Have you had the experience of controlling your tongue–sometimes in very difficult circumstances–and had the pleasant result of a better reaction from an angry person? Or have you witnessed this well-controlled behavior in others?

 

About alexanderhodde

I love to write, I love to read (in that order) and I love to hike. My husband loves to fly remote control model airplanes, when he can get them into the air.
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12 Responses to Quick to Hear (by Hannah Alexander)

  1. I have Psalm 141:3 on a sticky note beside my computer. And 1 Thess 4:11 on another one right beside it. I might just add one for James 1:19.

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  2. Coincidentally, my husband and I had a conversation today about how our tongues get us in trouble sometimes! I like the idea of talking to people like I would a horse. If nothing else, it might give me a good laugh 😂

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  3. I do agree that it’s important to think about our approach before we do approach someone. We expect people to always comport themselves in a certain way but we all have moods and in a sense they need to be respected. If a strange dog is barking at us behind the fence we’re probably not going to try and pet the dog. There is a way with animals and people, otherwise what explains the “hangry” phenomenon?

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    • Even the words we use need to be used with care, because what means one thing to me might mean something completely different to someone else. I’ve discovered that phrases i might have used in Missouri don’t make any sense to folks here in Wyoming.

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  4. I found David Powlison’s book Good and Angry very helpful. Particularly in thinking through my anger and trying to respond constructively to people when I feel they have wronged me.

    Recently my boss behaved really unreasonably – usually I would have lost my temper but instead sat down with them and tried to discuss it constructively. We had a really good conversation as a result. I think its similar to your horse example – if I’d been harsh or shouting the message would have been completely lost.

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  5. That sounds like a good book to have around. I need to check it out. Thanks!

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