Today’s scripture: Proverbs 29:10-18 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Lynnette Pullen):

I don’t make friends easily. By nature I tend to be distrusting. I am cordial to most people and really don’t mind being around others, but I am hesitant to call someone my “friend.” I am not sure when I became so guarded, nevertheless, here I am.

Over the years when we were in Indianapolis, I became close to a group of people that I consider to be my friends. We would travel together to events and often have dinner together. There was a time when one person in the group did something very selfish, causing me to miss out on a pretty cool opportunity. Just me — no one else in the group was affected. It was intentional and planned, not necessarily to bring me down, but to make sure they was able to get what they wanted.

I was furious and hurt. I wanted to tell everyone in the group what they had done. I wanted to vent my anger so everyone would know I was wronged and their offense would be exposed. But something inside told me to be quiet. I needed to talk to someone about it, so I told my partner what happened. We ranted and raved together, but it didn’t help. In the end, I was just as ticked off and hurt as I was in the beginning, maybe even a little more. And to make matters worse, my partner was upset on my behalf.

Counterintuitively, I have stayed in contact with this person. I don’t ignore them, but the relationship is very different. I am guarded and a little distant, I admit. Maybe one day when it doesn’t hurt so much, I can go to them and discuss the matter. I am normally unable to stifle my tongue when I’m worked up about something. I usually get pretty darn upset and speak out of anger. I generally don’t say spiteful things, but I can be direct and accusatory. In this case, I am thankful that I kept my trap silent. (Random thought: I wonder if the mouth was nicknamed a “trap” because of the things that go in or the things that come out.)

Anyway, as the old song goes “You gotta know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em.” In this situation, I am glad I held my tongue (which for me is no easy feat). However, somehow refusing to give in to the temptation of venting my anger while still remaining authentic to what I felt has somehow afforded me grace and integrity. I cannot explain how, but maybe this is the mystery in the Proverbs 29:11: A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds back.

Prayer for the day: God, there are so many times I vent my pain and anger only to regret it later. This often causes others pain and embarrassment to me. Anger is a very strong and difficult to control emotion. Help me to remember to stifle my tongue until my anger subsides in order to maintain integrity and clarity. Thank you.

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