A friend and I read James 3:9-12 the other morning and I had a revelation while we were talking. This is the passage:

With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

I've always thought of this primarily as a passage about gossip or slander. And I think it is. But God showed me something else right before we read it together, as I was thinking about the passage I'd been drawn to earlier and had read ahead of time.

I have been made in the likeness of God. I must be careful not to curse myself. I must be honest about my weakness, but I am also the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I must be honest about my situations and my hurts, but I am safe in the arms of a loving Father.

I think a lot of times this comes out of an attempt to lighten conversation with humor, to keep others from having to deal with our actual hurt or struggle. As in, "Oh, he's still looking for a job. Until then, I don't know what we're going to do, haha!"

But you see, I do know what we're going to do. We're going to be "patient in affliction" and trust. That's what I'm actually working at doing, even if I'm not perfect at it yet. But saying, "We're just waiting on God," and being truly content with that is hard. The waiting is a burden others might have to bear with you. And sometimes, even those of us who don't mind a little drama now and then, don't want to share some burdens. It's even harder for the people who are more introverted.

And then, sometimes, it isn't humor. Sometimes, it's straight-up talking about ourselves as though we haven't been redeemed. Call me picky, but I think words and how we use them matters. I think how we think about ourselves and our situations matters. It's a struggle to take every thought captive to Christ, to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ," but a theme I've been seeing in my own life recently is the question: Why did you ever stop thinking of this as a battle? Why, after all the warnings to fight and to put on the armor of God, did you start living like it was unfair for it to be hard? Like it was a good time to just give up and lay down your weapons?

"I'm so impatient,"

"I'm a mess,"

"I can't do this."

Do we need a place to admit our weakness? Yes, yes, yes. But there is a vast difference between me praying (or even asking Adam to pray with me) and saying, "God, I'm feeling really overwhelmed right now and I need your grace. I thank You for Your strength in my weakness."

But a lot of times, when I toss out statements about myself like the ones above, I'm not seeking grace and provision. I'm seeking pity? Or someone to tell me I can give up? Or an acknowledgement that my acting in sin because I feel pressure is justifiable? I can't drag my feet around moaning about myself and my situation and then turn around to bless others and praise God. It's not sustainable.

This is not a prosperity gospel message. This is not me telling you and myself to sit in the midst of actually difficult situations and just speak positive things about finances or repeat hollow self-esteem slogans. But this is a call to seek God, to seek grace, even in daily conversation. To be aware of your words and what seeds you are sowing with them.

Are you cursing yourself? Are you cursing the very one that Christ died for, rose again for, called and redeemed? Who are you? Do you act and speak like you know?

God, may I remember who I am: a person made in the likeness of You.