Friday, January 22, 2010

An Ulcer of a Revelation

On Monday I had a wisdom tooth pulled. It was a regular routine extraction, it only gave them a tiny bit of trouble when trying to remove the tooth from the socket after it was loose. As they pulled it out, their tools scratched the inside of the gum in the back of my mouth. The socket healed normally, but I noticed an extra intense amount of pain after a few days. I was concerned about a dry socket so I decided to take a flashlight and check out the extraction site for anything out of the ordinary. What I saw was horrifying.

The spot where the dentist had scraped with her tools was horribly infected, red with white spots. I thought for sure I had strep throat or tonsillitis or something. I couldn’t get in with my family doctor so I made a trip to urgent care. The physician’s assistant’s conclusion surprised me – I had an ulcer. The open scrape allowed bacteria or a virus to get inside and cause this dime-sized ulcer in my mouth. An ulcer is basically a canker sore, which is painful enough, not to mention one that is ten times the normal size.

Needless to say the socket is doing just fine but I am in complete and total agony with the ulcer. Eating is a chore, and speaking is almost unthinkable. Anytime I move my tongue it rubs the ulcer giving me horribly sharp pain which goes down my throat and up into my ear.

The reason I am sharing all this is of course God uses everything in our life for our own good. Last night as I am laying in bed, He begins to speak to me about something He has been working on me with lately – my speech.

The last 2 weeks at my Joel Osteen class, we have been talking about watching what we say. The class facilitator even preached a message one Wednesday night about the words we use when talking about ourselves and the effect it has. We can’t ever take those words back, so it is imperative we speak long lasting blessings, not curses. I have been doing my best to think about what I say before I speak it, but apparently, not hard enough.

Just like moving my tongue hurts me physically, for the first time I realized how much moving my tongue can hurt spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, not only myself, but others as well.

I am normally a loud spoken person, I like to make sure I am heard above everyone else. I want to be positive my thoughts and ideas are clearly emphasized, regardless of who I trample in the process. If I am upset I tend to yell, whether it is at my husband, my kids, whoever, it makes no difference. When you speak quietly, you use less tongue movement, whereas when you speak loudly, your tongue movements are bigger and more powerful. Because of the amount of pain I am in, speaking loudly is near impossible. I have spent the last week speaking quieter and less assertively, not because I want to, but because I cannot bear the pain.

What I have learned by speaking quieter is I am still heard. Times when I believed no one was listening and had to shout to be heard, I was mistaken. One example is when I said something to my husband while the kids were shouting at the top of their lungs. He appeared to hear nothing I said and feeling defeated I said sadly “You haven’t heard a word I have been saying have you?” To my complete and utter surprise, he repeated every word I said clearly. I don’t have to shout to be heard! When my kids made me angry I had to speak calmly and quietly because I have no other choice. Surprisingly, it has been rather effective and they have been well behaved and obedient, and I didn’t have to scream and yell at them.

When I yell at people, the tone I use is abusive. It makes people feel like they need to defend themselves. It scares my children into obedience instead of discipline with love. I believe I am just talking, or being expressive or firm, when really I have been treating others badly without realizing it. Being forced into talking quietly has been an eye opener in using a different tone and volume level when approaching others.

I am also a person that tends to let words fly. I don’t care what I say or how it comes out; whatever comes to mind comes out. Because it has hurt so much to talk, I have to choose what is worth the pain to say. When normally I would say whatever I feel, now I consider each thought carefully and say the minimum to get the point across. I don’t blabber on and on to no end or say things unnecessary in order to get the basic point across

I am also careful which words I choose to use. For example, last night Princess Pie was being difficult going to bed. When normally I would threaten and yell at her, I spent my few painful words to tell her I loved her and say goodnight. Needless to say, she stayed in bed and went right to sleep, no threats or beatings necessary.

It’s a good thing because earlier in the day she jumped on me and it hurt so I pushed her away. She sadly told my husband “Daddy, Mommy doesn’t like me anymore.” I scooped her up and told her I loved her so much. She is now at the age where our every action reflects her worth, not just we are mean or unfair. If I didn’t learn this valuable lesson about my speech, I could crush her spirit completely, not exactly what God has called for me as a parent.

So yes, I am in horrible, horrible agony. I have lost 2 pounds because of my inability to eat when I am hungry. I wait and wait until I can’t stand it another minute before I force myself to eat through the pain. But eventually the ulcer will heal. Eventually I will be free to eat and speak at will. However, the pain I cause others and myself with my negative and destructive words cannot be taken back. They will cause lasting damage that only God can heal. I pray the words and tone I have used in the past has not already caused irreversible damage. I also hope that this painful lesson will be a lasting one. That the way I speak in the future would not be excessive and loud, but rather that I would be soft spoken, slow to speak, and my words would be thoughtful and God-breathed.

The pain is not worth a thousand words.


Anonymous said...

My dearest Cali, It appears you are learning one of lifes most painful lessons! It is not an easy one at all dear heart and I wish I could say one we learn over night and it sticks with us.... but unfortunally it is one that takes continual practice. However I will say you are one of the blessed ones that has become aware of the power of words! There are so many who are blinded to the damage they do with their tongue! God Bless my sweet cousin! This is one of those life lessons WE ALL struggle with! Love ya!

Anonymous said...

Opps I didn't sign my name it's me, your cousin Karrie, I don't know how to put my name on this thing! Love you!

Niecey said...

Ow, that sounds so sore! I'm so sorry to hear about the ulcer.
Well done in using it to let God speak to you! I really need to pay heed and learn the lesson myself. I struggle with it for sure.

Tracy:D said...

I finally got to finish reading this at the end of my still busy day. Praise the Lord for His goodness in showing you something useful through the pain. Praise the Lord for your willingness to listen!

Some people might say this was a "Job" trial, but it sounds more like you've been living James chapter 1. I preached on that Sunday evening, but you weren't there, so I know your revelation came from the trial and not because you heard it the night before it started.

Near the end of your blog you said, "That the way I speak in the future would not be excessive and loud, but rather that I would be soft spoken, slow to speak, and my words would be thoughtful and God-breathed." I pray that you are able to meet that in your speech to others, but that your praise to the Lord would be excessive and loud always. :)