More Than Wishing

More Than Wishing

Mary B. Grimm, Author
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Positive Uses of the “Tongue”

I’ve been reading through Proverbs in my daily Quiet Times and studying the book of James for my weekly Bible study. Both books have a lot to say about the words we say and how we use our speech. Much of what I’m reading gives examples of the harm that can come to our listeners (or readers) from using our speech carelessly or with wrong motives.

I want to look at some loving, caring, productive uses of what we say to others. In order to do that, I also need to read the passages that reprimand inappropriate uses of the tongue. Basically, if we do the opposite of the negative uses of our speech, we will be using our tongues in helpful ways. James 3:1-11 (and further in the chapter) has much to say. You can read the post to the right for the passage from the NLT. The passage is addressed to teachers and leaders in the church, but we should all try to follow the principles laid out in the passage (as well as the rest of James 3).

Our speech should not be uncontrolled. In other words, we should carefully evaluate what we want to say before we say it. The old adage, “think before you act,” is the idea. So many of us respond to others in a reactionary manner, which only leads to arguments and hurt feelings – and eventually divisions. This is true whether we are talking with a brother or sister in Christ, our co-workers on our job, or within our own families (especially with spouses). In James 1:26 it says, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself and your religion is worthless” (NLT). This is a great challenge to those of us who call ourselves Christians (and anyone else professing any religion). Think before you act. Control your tongue.

Another example of good ways to use our words is found in Proverbs 15:1. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (NASB). This is a great verse for those of us who are parents. Whether it’s dealing with a small child throwing a tantrum or an angry teen trying to get their own way, this works to calm the situation down. I wish I had memorized this verse when my children were very young. I could have used the reminder to not yell back when my children were yelling at me. The times I remembered to do this, the turmoil and the chaos calmed down much more quickly. Also, it prevented hard feelings that could linger in the atmosphere of the relationship and the atmosphere of the home. Another result of being gentle and calm (with my children but also with my husband or co-workers) is I felt better about myself when all was said and done. Answer gently. Be calm.

Proverbs has a lot to say about using speech for deceitful purposes. The passages talk about slandering and not keeping secrets. Proverb 11:13 addresses this: “One who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, But one who is trustworthy conceals a matter” (NASB). Keeping secrets is not only a good practice for keeping friendships, it’s also a way to be right with God. When a friend (or enemy) shares a private matter with us, they are trusting us. Failure to maintain that trust can do damage to the development of the relationship and to the person sharing with us. Many times the slanderer shares in hopes of bettering their own position within a community. When done at the expense of another person, it’s doubly wrong. Not only does it hurt the person but also it’s an attempt to promote us and violate God’s commands to be humble. Be trustworthy. Conceal secrets.

Use honorable language and do not be vulgar or rude. Proverb 15:4 (in the King James Version) says, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life; but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.” Wholesome as used here means “healing, cure, health” according to the Strong’s Concordance. To me that says words meant to build another up or give mental and physical health to the hearer. I don’t know about you but swear words and vulgar words don’t improve my health. In the Strong’s Concordance it defines perverseness as “distortion or viciousness.” The Free Dictionary online says this is “behavior that deviates from that which is understood to be orthodox or normal. … Although the term perversion can refer to a variety of forms of deviation, it is most often used to describe sexual behaviors that are considered particularly abnormal, repulsive or obsessive.” We do not want to use any language that deals with abnormal moral behaviors. Use Wholesome Language. Use healing words.

There is much more Scripture and many books written about the healthy uses of  speech. I can’t cover them all here and won’t try. These give us a good place to start.

Think before you act. Control your tongue.

Answer gently. Be calm.

Be trustworthy. Conceal secrets.

Use Wholesome Language. Use healing words.

James 3:1-11 (New Living Translation)

1Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.[b]

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation.  (Permissions pending)

Update and Good Word

Hello. I feel I should write another “Welcome” post since it’s been so long since I posted a blog article on my webpage. A lot has happened in the in-between time. If you’ve been following along on my Facebook page (More Than Wishing), you know I had a serious back problem that left me in so much pain I was taking high-powered medicine to lessen it. The meds also left me a bit groggy and unable to maintain focus (or was that the pain?) I couldn’t string together a logical set of words; so writing was very difficult and exhausting. I just didn’t have the energy for it. So no blog articles.

Finally, after 4 months of waiting to find out what was wrong and without being able to walk for much of that time, I had major surgery to repair the damage in my low back on January 22nd, 2021. Recovery has been remarkable and I am now able to concentrate and walk. I’m looking forward to using our camping trailer this summer. I’m still building up stamina (it’s amazing how our muscles can atrophy due to not using them for a relatively short period of time), and have a long way to go before I’m walking the mile a day I was doing last summer. I have incentives to keep me plugging away at it.

One of those incentives is a new grandson, born in November 2020. I can’t visit with him and his parents enough to satisfy me. I’m looking forward to being able to go on walks, play with him on the floor, read books to him, and share Jesus with him—you know, Grandmother (Yiayia) things.

As I already mentioned, I’m looking forward to using our new (delivered in August 2020) camping trailer. It may not be this summer, but one trip we plan to take is to Utah. One of our daughters moved there for her first career job and I can’t wait to go visit her. She lives in the southwest corner of the state and the sights are beautiful. She’s enjoying her job and the drastic change in scenery from Michigan. She got there the end of December (after an adventure including a totaled car) and enjoyed the temperate weather (no Michigan freezing and snow).

Caitlinn’s adventures

I’ve been reading in Proverbs for my daily devotions. Today I read part of Proverb 14. Verse 10 in the NLT says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.” My heart is very sad that due to my back problems I was unable to go with her when my daughter moved to Utah, and to be with her and my husband as they dealt with the accident. Fortunately, no one was injured, but they had to significantly change their plans only ¼ of the way there. Yet I had a supporting role. I was able to muster up much prayer support from church and friends as they dealt with the situation. (Facebook definitely has its good points.) My daughter got to manage several very new and adult activities on her own as a result (she flew the rest of the way to Utah and waited for her belongings to be shipped to her). We saw God answer our prayers above and beyond, and so much better, than we even prayed for. My joy in seeing God work was probably shared by some, but no one can know the extent of my joy, except Christ. The verse in Proverb 14 reminded me that while others may not understand my bitterness or joy, Christ does. Praise the Lord!

I’ll close this article for now. My goal is to ease back into my blog writing by posting one new article a month for now. Be looking for them on the last Thursday of the month.

A New Start: James

This week, my Bible study partner and I have shifted gears and are studying a book in the New Testament. While there is much more to learn from looking at God patterns in the Old Testament, we decided to tackle something different for this fall. We are studying the James’ letter To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” (James 1:1, NASB). We will be using the NavPress LifeChange series book on James to guide our study.

In the introduction, there is some discussion as to when this book was written. Many scholars over the years have assumed that this book was James’ rebuttal to Paul’s writings about the inclusion of Gentiles without conforming to the Jewish Laws. However, there is a whole school of thought on this that says this letter may have been the first letter written by anyone, dating it before Paul’s writings.

The different views were supported by various sources, but I’m leaning towards believing it was written earlier than later. One reason for this is because, as quoted above, the letter was written to Christian Jews (people belonging to the twelve tribes). Early on in the development of the church, it was primarily made up of Jews, the gospel not having yet made it to the Gentiles (primarily after the great disbursement of Jews out of the city of Jerusalem). Paul was still in his “Christian infancy” then and hadn’t yet written any of his letters.

I’m open to what further study may reveal, but for now I’m going to approach James from the perspective of what James wanted the early Jewish Christians to know. Quoting my Bible study partner, I would describe James’ purpose for writing this letter as, “Encouragement to the scattered Jewish believers to obedience and focus on God.” This involved continually circling back to point its readers back to this question: “Where’s your focus?” As I continue to read and study James, I’m going to keep that question in mind and jot down a few notes for each section about what James thinks the early believers should be focusing on – and take those things to heart as the things I should also be focusing on.

Concluding 1st and 2nd Kings

My Bible study partner and I began the study of 1st and 2nd Kings just about a year ago on September 12, 2019. I started my blogs (on my Blogspot site which can be found by clicking on the menu item labeled “Old Blogspot Blog” in the left column) on the history books of Kings on that day. Not every article since then has been on Kings but most have.

Based on a commentator’s suggestion, one of the key things we looked at was,

“Where is God dismantling Israel’s confidence and showing His omnipotent mercy and patience?”

During the last year, we have seen many situations where Israel (and later, Judah) tried to manage conflicts with their neighboring countries (and even among themselves) based on their own strength and/or wisdom. From my memory, I’d say every time they relied on themselves they failed, and in some situations ended up far worse off than they were to begin with. Even King David, often touted as a man after God’s own heart, failed to take things to God before acting, and the result was trouble for himself and for the following generations. Need an example? How about his misconduct with Bathsheba? Or his favoritism with his sons that led to interfamily rivalries and civil war, and the return of a divided kingdom? Some of the failings of the kings of Israel actually play a role today in the strife and chaos of the Middle East today!

Each time Israel’s kings or the people of Israel failed to plead to God or follow His Word, some kind of disaster happened. However, each time God, out of His omnipotent mercy and patience, protected Israel in some seemingly impossible way. God caused mighty foreign armies to flee before a few hundred Israeli soldiers (I hesitate to call these bands of men soldiers since most were mere farmers with farming implements to defend themselves). Other times in spite of evil Israelite or Judean kings, God provided necessary provisions to restore peace among His people.

God kept warning the people through multiple prophets (from Nathan during David’s era to Isaiah and Amos under the later kings) what disaster was awaiting them if they failed to return to obeying God and His Word. Time and time again, they failed to obey, yet God held off the disasters because of His mercy. Although God knew they would follow evil, He gave them chance after chance to repent (the same chances He gives us today).

As I looked back on these books (really starting with 1st and 2nd Samuel), I am challenged to look for God’s omnipotent mercy and patience in my own life. God has dismantled my confidence, especially when I try to solve life’s problems based on my own intelligence or strengths. Yet He also draws me to return to Him through the prodding of the Holy Spirit, and when I do His mercy and patience lead the way and restores me to right relationship with Him. This often leads to restoration in my life’s balance with the return of peace and hope.

Where is He dismantling your life so He can restore you with His omnipotent mercy and patience to a hopeful reality with Him as the focus?

Can You Spare 10 Minutes?

Can you spare 10 minutes? There are so many items on my want to do, should do, and could do lists that there doesn’t seem like there’s enough time to do any of them. So I don’t. I just keep looking at the piles (on my dresser, in my closet, in the hall closet, on my desk, in my desk, in the store room, and even on the dining room table) and wishing I had more time.

The reality is if I spent the 10 minutes I use to be anxious over everything there is to be done actively doing something, the piles would shrink! My therapist and my best friend remind me to set a timer for 10 minutes and tackle one of the piles. The idea is I don’t have to plan on finishing the job; it’s about just getting started. I’ve found that once started, I continue to tackle the pile well after the timer goes off. And it feels so good.

This idea originated with my therapist who told me to set a timer for 5 minutes to get started on a writing project – even just writing in my journal. I rarely stopped after the 5 minutes was up. Then she suggested lengthening the time a little if I was still feeling overwhelmed. Again, it worked. I usually come away feeling successful, even a bit proud of what I was able to get done. Often that motivates me for the next task or pile to conquer.

Even though I know that I will spend more time than the “required” 5 or 10 minutes, this technique still works. I have found I can do almost anything for 10 minutes, including reading God’s Word or writing in my Prayer Journal. The best part of this technique is that it encourages me to lay aside the “distractions,” presumably for 10 minutes, to do something else. Even setting a timer for the “distractions” (playing games on my phone, watching the news, etc.) allows me to move on to more productive activity. I often find I have 10 minutes (or even the original 5) in my day that I thought was impossible to find.

I often suggest this strategy to other people, and some of them have found it useful as well. We remind each other back and forth to use it to tackle our piles. Even if I only have 10 minutes, it’s amazing how much I get done just by getting started. That’s the original purpose of this technique: to get started. I suggest this to my friends and to my college-aged daughter. Later in the day, we compare notes and are mutually encouraged by what we were actually able to achieve. This is a strategy I recommend you try when you are staring at the piles. Just start. We can do anything for 10 minutes.

Necessary Contact

One of the things I learned about myself while in the hospital surprised me. Generally I consider myself an introvert, even a loner. And I am, to some extent. I’m not the life of the party. I’m not the clown or the one that can tell the jokes and get laughs. I’m not the first to speak out when I have ideas that could help a group. I enjoy my alone time and many of the areas I’m skilled in do not require a lot of input from others.

Yet, as a result of the coronavirus and the accompanying restrictions, alone time has worn out its welcome. Quite possibly it wore out its welcome quite quickly, because while I tell myself I’m an introvert, many of my weekly activities (prior to Covid-19) involved meeting with other people. I regularly attended AA meetings, volunteer work, greeting at church, attending a women’s Christian business group, and various “dates” for coffee or lunch. I still think I’m an introvert, but I do not thrive when I spend most of my time without contact with other people.

In talking with the therapist assigned to me at the hospital, she challenged the notion that I’m a good loner. She pointed out how much I contributed to the conversations and group discussions in the hospital setting. I also asked if anyone played cribbage and would want to play with me (and then was involved in conversation with those people when they were identified). She pointed out that when I first arrived at the hospital, I tried staying by myself, but was drawn into the groups quickly (all I had to do was be asked by someone – usually a mental health worker (MHW) – if I wanted to attend a group).

She went on to observe that in our first meeting, she had me describe an average week pre-coronavirus and it was filled with contact with other people. She laughed as she reminded me that I told her I would go to our local coffee shop to work on my computer just to be around other people. She also pointed out that almost all that stopped abruptly with the start of coronavirus restrictions.

What it boiled down to was that I needed human contact and I needed to start strategizing how I was going to have that even with Covid-19 restrictions still applying to me (letting up right now would not be wise due to several high risk conditions I have). So in view of that discovery, I have begun looking for others to “meet” with (masks and/or social distancing in place). I have come up with several options and keep brainstorming for more. And, having had several of those meetings, I do feel less alone. And, emotionally and mentally, I’m doing better each day.

What To Remember From Our Past

I’ve been told not to dwell on the past. Yet, there are things in the past that I do not want to forget. Isn’t that true for everyone? There are definitely situations or events in my past that I can’t help but remember; they are imprinted upon me and have shaped my character.

Some of those things have hurt me in some way and can still cause me pain and sadness, but I cannot just forget them, no matter how hard I try. What I realized today as I spent some time in quiet reflection is that in remembering those things, I can note how I survived them and overcame them. Remembering them, but not dwelling on them or staying hooked to the past, is the only way I can remember the way the past has actually helped me along in my life.

I developed some strategies for managing some of the situations from my past that have proven to be ineffective or obsolete for living in the present. Knowing that means I can choose different strategies now. In remembering my past, I can see when and how God moved in my life to bring me through each situation. I can also see how my character developed into what God wanted for me as I figured out ways to overcome the difficulties.

God wants us to remember how He provides for us, how He worked to bring us through trying situations, and how He has protected us. It’s in remembering the past and recognizing God’s role in it that I can move confidently forward. It’s in recognizing God’s provisions for dealing with hardships of the past that I see the character of God and can better worship Him now.

This is what the writer of Psalm 78 was trying to do for the people of Israel. The Psalmist explains this purpose in Psalm 78:4:

We will not hide these truths from our children;
    we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
    about his power and his mighty wonders. (New Living Translation)

The Israelites were to tell their children about the hard truths of the past and then told to see how God did glorious deeds to help them out (the rest of the Psalm goes on to call to mind the story of Israel’s miraculous exodus from Egypt). We, too, should remember the past with the intent of noticing God’s great works in our lives.

In Alcoholics Anonymous there is a list of promises that can be seen coming true in the life of recovering alcoholics. Two of those promises say,· 

  • We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
  • We will comprehend the word serenity, and we will know peace.

As I work to move ahead in this present life, I remember the past and note how God has supplied ample serenity and peace even in the hardest times in my life. As you remember. As you remember your past, may your reflections show you the mighty ways God has moved in your life and give you cause to praise.

Reader Reviews

The Tootsie Roll Lady: a Memoir of Mental Illness, Alcoholism & Faith 2019 Edition

“I really enjoyed this book. God has delivered Mary from so much! What a testimony to the goodness of God! I’m so thankful He doesn’t give up on any of us.” –Margaret  Besonen Hoeft, Fowlerville, MI

“Because of Mary’s story, I know that people with mental health problems can live thriving lives, because she has done it. It takes God’s help, lots of work, and the support of many others, but it is totally possible.” –Jean LaPlante, Eagan, MN

“My family and friend circles include people struggling with mental illness of varying degrees. Reading about Mary’s journey has helped me better understand these situations.” –Chris Van Wynen, Fowlerville, MI

“Faith in God does not inoculate Christians from the human experience of suffering, addiction, and mental illness. Mary’s story highlights how God’s persistent love penetrated the isolation she felt while living with bipolar disorder, alcoholism and diabetes. As Mary bravely shares her deepest shame, we see God’s goodness. She demonstrates how faith can lead one toward recovery and wholeness, and how necessary it is for the church to break through the stigma and shame of mental illness—to love boldly.” –Katherine M. Gute, LMSW, ACSW, Grand Ledge, MI

“My friend and author, Mary Grimm, has done an awesome job in the book of sharing her experience and strength. This book will help you if you struggle in the area of mental illness or alcoholism, and encourage you to see you are not alone and there is hope.” –Diane Folts, Fowlerville, MI

“The experiences Mary shares in The Tootsie Roll Lady show us that while God doesn’t prevent all mental illness among his children, He remains present in the midst of our struggles and is a source of comfort and help.” –Kristine M. Nelson, Professionally Certified Educational Therapist, Nampa, ID

But God Part 3

The many passages of Scripture that include the phrase “but God” warrant another look. Part 1 looked at the example of Noah, Part 2 looked at the verbs/actions God took, and today, in Part 3, I’m looking at part of Peter’s first sermon in Jerusalem.  Starting with verse Acts2:22, Peter …