by: Topher Wiles
Sometimes I hate it when she’s right. At least, I dislike it in the short moment my
heart is convicted and I have to apologize.
Yet, I am grateful for my wife’s perspective, especially when she politely
corrects my speech. That’s right, even preachers need correction.
Dawn dish soap tasted terrible in my 10-year-old mouth.
After yelling a certain four letter euphemism while running through my boyhood
home, my mother washed my mouth out with soap.
I was incredulous as I remember thinking, “You and dad say it all the
time, why am I in trouble?” Over the next
few years my language got fouler and my mom stopped punishing me even though it
progressed to more colorful utterances than simple words. A sailor would blush at the phrases, stories,
and jokes that came out of my mouth before my Lord and Savior, Jesus, changed
me. In my late teens I remember
digesting a verse from Paul’s letter to Ephesus, a verse that would tame my
tongue and make me reconsider the words I offered the world around me.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but
only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may
give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29
From the reading of this verse I was changed. If Jesus could sacrifice his life to bring
grace to me, the least I could do in appreciation is watch my words to give
grace to others. Ever since that
day, I’ve not uttered a cuss word, thereby removing all need for Dawn dish soap
in my life. Yet, removing a few choice
words doesn’t mean my speech builds others up or gives grace to hearers, as my
wife as dutifully noted. Recently the struggle gripping me revolved
around what I say at the dinner table and what I say to my sons. Too often the words “knucklehead” or “nimrod”
color my speech when I relay frustration at other people’s mistakes. Sometimes I even feel entitled to utter those
derogatory words after long hard days “being good” at work, like I’m owed a
verbal vent for my frustration. My sin
deepened one time when a son made a mistake on a project around the house and I
allowed my mouth to turn one of those words on him, resulting in my wife’s
She said, “Christopher, please don’t use those words anymore,
especially toward our children.” I love
my wife and I knew my frustration had stepped over a line, one that she was
gently but firmly redefining for me in that moment. I’m thankful that she remembered the instruction
of Bible verses even when I forget.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you
who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch
on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1
Even though I may not like it in the moment, I’m gratefully for
my wife’s perspective and correction. I’m
also grateful for the older men in my life that seem to timely reorient my
mouth in the right directly. My friend
Art Kixmilller, an older servant in the church, reoriented my speech as he shared
with me six statements that we all need to say more to be positive, build
others up, and give grace to those who would hear. Here is Art’s word replacement program in a nutshell,
strive to say the following statements more.
#6 "I admit I made a mistake"
#5 "You did a good job."
#4 "What is your opinion?"
#3 "If you please..."
#2 "Thank you."
#1 Anything involving the word "WE".
“The research that’s been done on the use of positive
language to change mood, behavior, and physical well-being is abundant —and
abundantly clear. When we regularly use a more buoyant language to describe our
lives we stimulate frontal lobe activity. This includes the language centers
such as the Wernicke's area and Broca's area, parts of the brain considered
vital for human communication. Those are regions of the brain that link
directly to the motor cortex, which is responsible for getting us to take
When there is a substantial increase in the use of positive
language, functions in the parietal lobes begin to shift. Those shifts are
responsible for creating more positive perceptions overall. It’s also believed
that the structure of the thalamus —which is thought to be partly responsible
for the way we perceive reality—can actually be altered in response to positive
words, thoughts and emotions.”
Armed with Art’s six statements, my wife’s gentle
correction, and a general mindfulness of my words, I’ve seen a few
changes. My relationships with my boys have
improved, with them wanting to spend more time with dear old dad. I’ve witnessed my feelings toward challenges
with work and life grow in a more positive light. I’ve seen a decrease in my own stress and an
increase in my productivity. In short,
giving grace to those who hear me blesses me, my family, my church, and my
community. Art is right, our words
May you be blessed today to find people who gently correct
you and reorient you to more Family Forte too.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed
by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will
of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2