The Problem With My Tongue

If there is one SPECIFIC thing I need to improve on this year, it is to guard my tongue. As a person who takes pleasure in the use of language as a means of expression, I have come to realize what a sacred responsibility it is. This gift of communication is from the Lord but when infected with selfishness, it can be used to curse and hurt others.

For example, over the holidays I took the kids to buy presents for one another. The kids earned their own money to buy gifts and they were thoroughly excited to pick out Christmas presents for each others and their cousins. But since their budgets were small, they couldn’t purchase very expensive toys for each person. Instead they had to be thoughtful and creative. However, since four out of my five were in the store with me, in the end, l paid the cashier a significant amount of money on their behalf. 

  I took the kids’ presents to the wrapping counter and asked if the attendants could wrap each of their gifts. One of my sons bought three cars for their cousin, the total amount of which was 300+ pesos. But the lady at the counter said, “I am sorry but we can’t wrap items that are less than P300.” And I appealed, “But I am combining the items so they are equal to at least P300.” The lady’s non-sense reply was, “Sorry, ma’am but that’s our policy.” 

I retorted with irritation, “It doesn’t make any sense. You mean to tell me that even if I spent seven thousand pesos in your store, you will not wrap items that I bought that are less than 300 pesos?” 

“Yes, ma’am. The minimum for wrapping everything is 10k.” 

By this time I was thoroughly annoyed and visibly so. There was no real logic to what she was saying. One of my sons was beside me, peering over the table, innocently hoping that he could have all his gifts for his siblings and cousins wrapped. The site of his anticipation heightened my aggravation for the attendant.

Maybe the attendant saw all the small items in his shopping bag and thought about how she didn’t want to have to wrap every single small item in it. I don’t know what exactly was going through her head but she seemed to be unaccommodating and inflexible. This was a classic case of rote thinking at the expense of the customer’s convenience. 

My pride kicked in when she offered to wrap some of the items with a higher price tag on them. Instead of cheerfully receiving this proposal, I said, “Forget it. Never mind. We will just do everything ourselves.” My tone was curt and cutting. 

I didn’t want to have to sort through all the kids’ gifts for each other — 20 something items to check each of their price tags before giving them to the attendant to wrap for us. So I walked off. My son saw that I was upset. 

My heart wasn’t right and I wasn’t a good example. This was one of those moments when I wished I could have restrained my emotions and chosen to be humble and compliant. I let bad customer service determine the way I verbally responded. 

This is where I often err. I had to apologize to my kids and ask for their forgiveness. Looking back, I should have returned to the salesperson and also asked for her forgiveness, but I was too proud. I didn’t redeem the situation or honor God’s name. 

Therefore, it’s no surprise that during this fasting week and time of prayer, God revealed to me that I need to improve in this area. I came across this passage…

“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice deeds of wickedness with men who do iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭141:3-4

Even though I gave an example of speaking unkindly to a sales attendant, most of the time it isn’t with strangers that I let my tongue loose. Rather it is with my husband, Edric, who has also told me on numerous occasions that I have to be careful with my words and tone. When I don’t like a decision he has made or the way he treats me, my tendency is to lash out with statements that provoke him to debate and argue with me. 

 During a seminar I attended last year, the speaker said, “When you are about to say something to your spouse think about whether it will really benefit them to hear you say what you want to say or if it is merely to benefit yourself.” 

I thought this was a great principle to keep in mind as I guard my mouth. God made our tongues to bless and not to curse, to give life and build up, not to tear down. Furthermore, we are to use our mouths to exalt God and declare His goodness. During the same day I read about guarding my tongue Psalm 145 said, “All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, And Your godly ones shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom And talk of Your power; To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.” ‭Psalms‬ ‭145:10-12, 21‬ ‭

Please pray that I will be more thoughtful about the words I speak. What comes out is a good clue to what’s inside my heart. I have tried to find a remedy for this disease of the tongue that I am susceptible to. And so far the best fix is what Psalm 119:11 says: “Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you.” 

15 thoughts on “The Problem With My Tongue

  1. have that same dilemma i wish i can do that as well! I will pray, sometimes I also become too proud and want to the customer is always right mentality

    1. We are all in the same boat. God intends to work in all our lives. And yes it’s sometimes the customer service that irks me the most! May we always remember to be gracious and filled with Christ and not ourselves!

  2. Same here. Thanks for sharing your struggle and encouraging me that God is in the business of transforming us more like Him as we yield to His power and will. May His favor and blessings be upon you and your loved ones always! More power!????

  3. Hi Joy, same struggles here. Thanks for sharing this. I will pray for you as well. God rebuke me in this but God is so gentle in correcting me. God bless you:)

    Our Lord Jesus Christ be glorified forever.

  4. Hi Joy!

    Happy New Year to you and to your lovely family! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    How come, we, women, more than men, have this problem with our tongues? Haha!

    I don’t really have a problem with department and grocery store personnel and household help because I always keep in mind what a friend once told me, “Tess, if those people were rich or educated or smart, they wouldn’t have taken those kinds of jobs.” Humbling that statement was for me then.

    My problem is talking to my smart, educated and grown-up daughter with whom I oftentimes have verbal spats. She made “sumbong” to her Tatay that I’m tactless but I told her I’m not because every word which may be “heavy” or offensive for her, I utter deliberately to knock her out of her senses. And now…we’re on a cold war. Whew! I told my husband even if she’s already mature, working and way over the age of being under our control, she still lives under our roof and I feel she still needs to toe the line somehow.

    This surely hit me bull’s eye, Joy. Thank you so much for the reminder. God help us all with our tongues!

    Keep writing and inspiring! At least you get to control the keyboard here. 🙂


  5. Hi Ms. Joy. Thanks for sharing. My imagination becomes bountiful each time I read your blog. That is why I always look forward to your articles.
    Thanks for always sharing the lessons you’ve learned from our Lord. We, your readers are also learning a lot from you.
    Keep on writing and keep on blessing others:)

  6. It is good to acknowledge our weakness in front of people, you are courageous indeed, and to God whom we owe everything. I have the same weakness as yours. We need each others prayers. God knows us and the good thing is that as we tell Him our requests, His help is on the way. He is transforming His children to be like Him, I know He is doing special things for you too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. God bless you ma’am 🙂

  7. A blessed new year to you Ms Joy and your wonderful family! I can totally relate with you about guarding our mouth. It’s really a struggle especially when your trigger points hit you so hard. But we have to make our choices and one is by choosing our words carefully. I’ll pray for you and for all who ask the Lord to help us be gentle, respectful and kind 😀
    Thanks for posting your story 🙂

  8. God must be really trying to talk to me through this entry. HAHA. Yesterday I had a “writing war” with my younger brother because he has the habit of not fixing his bed every time he wakes up. I had the right motive, but the note I made is full of pride, like “Mahiya ka naman sa iba… blah blah”. What shocked me most is how he responded to it. From me making a simple gesture of wanting to clean up his mess, to him judging me and asking me to look at the mirror to see my own flaws. I was extremely angry, pointing out to him how he has been benefiting from the stuff I do and give to the family even if I have my own family already.

    Not only did I disobey God for being so proud, but I also “unintentionally” caused somebody else to sin because of choice of words. I really have to tame my tongue, and make sure that what comes out from it must be pleasing and honoring to the Lord.

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