Guarding my Tongue


I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten into trouble for what I’ve said. I don’t even do it on purpose. I just have nothing to hide. If people ask me a question, I tell them the truth. Sometimes I tell them the truth when they don’t want to hear it, or when they haven’t even asked.

One time, for example, many years ago, I was at a Bible study where absolutely nothing was glorifying to God. A woman from the Bible study was talking to me on the phone, and I said, “This Bible study is crap. Everyone is stiff, and their arrogance reeks to high heaven. No one is vulnerable, and everyone talks down to everyone else. I have learned NOTHING in an entire year from this Bible study, and this has never happened to me, because my deep love for God is so strong, I can always find something to learn. I don’t know how I’m supposed to grow spiritually under these conditions.”

When she hung up the phone, she called the Bible study leader’s wife, and gossiped about all the juicy information I had just said. The leader’s wife hung up the phone and called to gossip to the elders. Then the leader’s wife told her husband, who called my husband and punished us both by removing us from Bible study. My husband trembled when he got off the phone, and he asked me, “What did you say?!!”

I told him everything, and I got on the floor weeping, repenting in dust and ashes. My husband was reminded of the betrayal that happened to him in California, back when all his friends turned on him and his reputation was ruined. This was the worst time in his life, and he thought his life was over. Somehow I had made my husband re-live his worst nightmare. I had deeply wounded my husband, and I was so, so sorry.

I remembered the story of the Israelites, when they were wandering through the wilderness. They complained, and God’s fire flashed forth and burned them up because complaining is an offense against God.

As I lay crumpled on the floor, I asked God to purge me from my sin of complaining. And I would have done anything to turn back the clock and take back my words.

There was a meeting with six people where I publicly apologized for my sin. During that meeting, one of the men gave us unwanted parenting advice which violated the Word of God. (He noticed that my children had joy when they came to Bible study, and that we needed to make them more sober. And by the way, my children were silent during Bible study. If you know my loud children at all, you would applaud my husband and me for training our children in self-control in such an outstanding manner. We ought to have been encouraged instead of rebuked.) I saw his arrogance right there and then, and I looked at my husband to see if he’d noticed. My husband had a humble demeanor on his face, and he only wanted the ordeal to be over with. So I bowed my head and looked at the floor.

I usually only get in trouble for my words about once every two years; but when I get into trouble, it’s like an explosion, and my husband has to do damage control. People who “get” me don’t become offended, but they actually enjoy me. Some people even seek me out for advice because (ironically) they think I’m wise, and they know they’ll get the truth.

Last Sunday before going to church, I asked my husband if I could be myself again, or if I had to guard my words. He said, “Susan, you always need to guard your words.” I thought to myself, “But I have a blog… How can I write blog entries daily and guard my words at the same time? I would feel like I had shackles. I just want to breathe and live and be free. This is the United States of America. I should be allowed to have free speech…”

But so many times I wished that I could take back things that I’ve said, even if every word of it was true. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it needs to be said.

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

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20 Responses to “Guarding my Tongue”

  1. Yes we should guard our words, but isn’t it wonderful to be blessed with even a few friends that when we are insensitive or harsh or whatever, they still love us and know we have their best interest at heart? Hugs! I know that feeling of getting in big trouble for what I’ve said.

  2. Tina says:

    Susan, I so look forward to reading your blog.Just discovered you but you are so honest and real.
    It is hard for me to believe children’s joy is frowned upon.I think you and your husband are doing a great job.

  3. Dawn says:

    Well, you may have spoken your mind at the wrong time to the wrong person, but they kicked you out of a Bible study for being honest?! Really??!! If God isn’t being glorified in a “study” situation and someone speaks up about it, I would hope and pray that the leader of the group would experience what’s called a “hard stop”– a truth that makes them stop and evaluate themselves. If not, and it was turned into gossip and anger, then Grace does not live there either. I would have left, quickly. Repentence is for sin, not honesty. I am so sorry you were treated that way!

    • Susan Evans says:

      Believe me, there are so many times when I have wanted to leave my church, even though I love it. Most recently a slander issue against my husband has been so painful, I can’t go to church now without feeling agony. I cry out, “How long, oh Lord?”

  4. Dana says:

    Oh my how I wish more people recognized that because something is true doesn’t mean it has to be said. Like seriously, children, everyone realizes that person is overweight. We don’t need to announce it for them.

    But then, that doesn’t always mean sitting back and saying nothing when things are going wrong, too. It takes courage and conviction to address problems, especially in a church.

  5. tiffany says:

    Yes – this verse is pinned up in our bathroom – where I often run for a time out to pray over my mouth… “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 how those words echo through my heart as I still pray God will change my speech!

  6. Melissa says:

    Just because something is true doesn’t mean it needs to be said. – As a therapist this is a truth I have to toe daily. Because people aren’t always in a place to hear everything. That doesn’t mean we lie. It means we hold our tongues of certain parts and our role is to love and encourage growth.

  7. Julie says:

    Thank you, Susan, for this post! It was honest, transparent and a welcome read. So often I’ve said things that I shouldn’t have. It’s hard to zip the lip sometimes:)

  8. Sarah says:

    This is especially poignant for me at this moment, as my husband recently told me that I speak without concern for whether or not my words will hurt the person I’m speaking to. I couldn’t imagine that being farther from the truth, so obviously, he and I see something different in my life. It’s especially surprising given some other claims he makes about the dynamics in our relationship. Something to continue thinking about. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Jessie says:

    Thank the Lord for people like you Susan. If someone had said that about my Bible study, the first thing I would do is examine our culture to see if we are properly worshipping God in what we do. That is what it’s all about. I think controlling the tongue is about making sure everything glorifies Him. Sorry to hear about your experience, it actually has broken my heart.

    • Susan says:

      I would do the same thing if I was leading a Bible study and someone said that to me. I would take it to the Lord in prayer because something is definitely wrong if people feel that way. Bible study should be a place of love and encouraging each other, learning from Scripture and growing.

  10. DONNA says:

    I know that feeling so well. I am learning that it’s not always what I say but how I say it. Lord, set a guard over all our mouths. Not one of us is innocent of never saying the wrong thing. Bless Susan and her ministry, Lord. Thank You God for Your Grace and all Your blessings. ❤

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