I have an aversion to swallowing. When I was a kid, I feared taking pill-shaped medicine because once, a pill got stuck in the back of my mouth and began to dissolve. It was so bitter, that I cried, hopped around, and almost gagged to death. After that, I preferred to take medicine in liquid form (before flavors were available). In fact, I was so afraid of swallowing pills, that I was impressed when I saw my dad take aspirin by simply throwing his head back. He didn’t even need water!
I am now in my late 30’s, and I still have an aversion to swallowing, but now I find it hard to swallow words. Words that I want to say and shouldn’t like “I told you so” are hard for me to swallow. Even when I’m right and know pointing out that fact will make the other person feel small or hurt, I feel compelled to say it in some way. Most of the time, I know I should not remind the person that I was right, but something in me closes my throat so that I have to spit those unproductive words out.
Here are 5 of the many instructions Our Creator gave us on how we should govern our words:
- Don’t speak without thinking.“Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Proverbs 29:20).
- Don’t say meaningless things. “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).
- Don’t say hurtful things. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
- Just don’t say it. “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction” (Proverbs 13:3).
- Stop fronting. “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).
I struggle with all the above instructions, but I recently swallowed an “I told you so” pill and shared some reassurance instead. There was no argument, no tension, and no regret for words spoken. I even felt better, and I believe the other person did too. Will I still struggle with swallowing words I truly want to say? Of course. But now I know I won’t gag to death when I do.