Coping with the Challenges, Family Life

Guard My Mouth

Since he was a toddler, Gabriel’s world consisted of a great deal of repetition. When he was diagnosed at 3 years old with a speech and language disorder, one of the most common manifestations was what professionals called echolalia. If you greeted him with “Hi, Gabriel, how are you today?”, my little parrot would reply, “Hi, Gabriel, how are you today?” Many children engage in this sort of behavior, but they soon grow out of it once they are able to get a handle on communicating more independently. Advised by the speech therapist not to discourage the echolalia, we allowed the repeating to help Gabriel process information before he was ready to respond appropriately.

Though there were still significant delays in his development, he progressed. As predicted, he gained some proficiency in everyday conversation, and the echolalia began to disappear. Well, not completely.

Today he will still repeat, but not during conversations. He is selective and will focus on a certain sound or phrase he hears and repeat it, almost without thinking. His choice, however, seems to almost always be his sister. Is this intentional? I don’t know. But, imagine the child who plays that cruel game of repeating-everything-she-says. “Stop copying me.” “Stop copying me.” “I’m going to tell Mommy.” “I’m going to tell Mommy.” But in this case, Gabriel is not trying to play a game.

silenceAs you can imagine, homeschool has been quite challenging for both of them because he is mimicking every word and sound his sister makes. But I could tell this is just as frustrating for him. One day, he came up to me and said, “Mommy, could you just put tape on my mouth and I will stop copying my sister?”

How many times have I approached God the Father with a similar request? “God, please put a guard over my mouth. Let my words be a blessing, not a curse, to others.” We have been warned that the tongue is more difficult to tame than the fiercest animal. Oh, how true that is!

There have been so many careless words that have spewed from my mouth, mostly directed towards those dearest to me … my husband and children. No amount of remorse can give me back that time and allow me to take back those hurtful words. And many of us know how much deeper the cuts of unkind words are because we have both inflicted and received them.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19)

“Could you just put tape on my mouth?” Oh, I wish it was that easy both for me and my son. With our mouths, God has given us an amazing privilege of blessing, encouraging, and edifying others. Tight lips would forfeit that privilege. So, our wise Father gives us some very practical instruction concerning godly speech. Less is more. With fewer words, we can be more intentional with them … only speaking when there is real purpose and only saying what is truly needed.

Let us exercise great care in choosing our words. May our words leave behind, not an intolerable stench, but a lasting, fragrant aroma of blessing.


(Photo credit: RebeccaBarray)

24 thoughts on “Guard My Mouth”

  1. THANK YOU so much for sharing this!!! God is so good to have allowed us to cross paths … He always blesses me with your posts and your transparency! Sending you much love!

      1. God puts you on my heart much these days. We are in the middle of an adoption process of special needs kids through the foster care system … Your posts inspire me and encourage my heart to keep going! God is using you!

  2. Oh my, such a timely reminder! If I only had to think as carefully about my words as my precious Noah does, I (and those around me) would be so much better off!


      1. Me, too. One of the verses I use to pray is Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

        I love your heart, too. ((hugs))

  3. Very well written post full of practical insight! I often hear the phrase “less is more” used but not in terms of our word usage. As a Counselor, I am aware of the importance of listening well to what is said and do try to keep my input to a minimum. To apply the concept of “less is more” in those situations, encourages me to rely on the Holy Spirit to help me craft the words I use to bless according to the need. Indeed . . . “less IS more!” Many thanks!

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words! You make a good point about being a good listener … it’s not always easy. I know, for me, the temptation is to formulate my answers before the other person has finished speaking. Using fewer words goes right along with being slow to speak.

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