About the Author

Jessica Turner is the author of Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter and Thrive, and blogs on The Mom Creative. Every day is a juggling act as she balances working full-time, making memories with her family, photographing the every day and trying to be...

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  1. a sweet reminder. thank you so much. i am often…really often if i’m being honest…of the same thing. i snap at my husband, and firm with my co-workers and employees and way too often impatient with my children.
    thank you for sharing your imperfections.
    very encouraging.
    i’m going to write this verse in my journal right now.

  2. Over the weekend, some long-time friends came to visit. We laughed and reminisced a lot and one of the things brought up was how I used to raise my voice to my kids. It surprised (and disturbed) me to hear that’s something that came to mind. I’ve always had a loud voice (easily moved to excitement…or sternness) but that THAT’S what they recall? Wow. Yuck.

    Maybe they just like pointing fingers, but there’s definitely truth in it. I do think as I’ve gotten older and my kids are NOT doing the dangerous type things littles do (my oldest was four when my third was born), there’s just not the need to be as loud :).

    Tone and inflection are just as important as the actual words; it’s interesting God, in his word) has left that for our imagination :).

    How wise of you to HEAR what Matthew is saying and then pray and act to respond. That’s a BIG, effective first step :).

    xo

  3. Oh yes, me too!! “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”. So when the Lord reminds me of my tone, He also reminds me to look to my heart and allow Him to deal with it. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.” We have had this verse framed on each bathroom counter as a reminder of the Lord’s standards for our words.

  4. Thank you for this timely post. I struggle with my words all. The. Time. So often I am critical when I need to take a deep breath and pray first. Or I misjudge a situation and immediately fire off my mouth instead of taking a moment to assess said situation rationally.

    One thing I have noticed about myself is that I am more mindful of my speech in work and church situations but I just let words flow freely when I am around my family and loved ones. As if I somehow think they ought to be able to take it *shakes head at self* This double-mindedness is something I really need to work on. I always think of what Amy Carmichael said (paraphrasing here): A cup of sweet water can never spill a bitter drop, no matter how severely it’s jolted.

  5. The beautiful thing about this example is how graciously Matthew responded so his words could be heard. At our house, I’m afraid we tend to respond in like manner, with judgment, far too often. “A gentle answer turns away wrath.”

  6. I always get in trouble for my tone too. Especially in the south. I Just moved from Nashville to Georgia for school and my prof sat me down when I first got here. He said in the south, especially Georgia, you have to small talk. I’m not good at small talk. Why do I have to ask you how your evening was when I really just want to tell you about the latest project? It is SO hard and I have to constantly remind myself to say how are you or how was ____ or any other question. He said he’s seen so many graduate students get asked to leave their placement because the teacher they are working with takes their inability to small talk to mean they know more than the teacher or are trying to boss her around. Small talk, chit chat, etc breaks down the strong tone I hold as an intellectual person who isn’t very strong in the acquaintance social skills! LOL Thanks for this post, I will check out those verses!

  7. Jess, I love that your heart is sensitive to this. As someone who has been with you in person, I want to share a bit about the other side of that “tone.” 🙂 When you use that tenacity you’ve got with words as a strength then it has an amazing ability to organize, calm, direct, and unite. You can bring a group together, join them in a worthy purpose, and help everyone involved take the steps needed. You encourage in a way that makes action happen–and I love that. So while you might need to change your tone at times (I’ve never experienced that part of you so I’m trusting your hubby and others you mentioned on that one) please don’t ever change the part of strong, beautiful you that helps us all in so many ways. XOXO

  8. Convicted! Yes, I definitely have a sharp tone…I know I need to work on it and I have lists of scripture that deals with words and their power and keeping them positive. But I needed this reminder today!

  9. Yes. So often that i have that exact verse scribbled across the white board attached to the front of my fridge. Glad to know I’m not the only one, not that it makes it acceptable but to know someone is fighting the same battle right along side me.
    It was a joy to meet you at Relevant.

  10. Oh, every day as I homeschool my children, I hear tones…that I shouldn’t be hearing. But praise God through his mercy, He has helped them to be less and less pensive and loud. The tone is one thing I am responsible to provide to my family. May it be one that reflects love and patience. Thank you for these reminders.

  11. Thanks for this reminder today, Jessica. I had a moment very similar to yours just this morning, only I was on the phone with my husband. I struggle with this problem a lot. I’m definitely going to be writing that verse down to remember!

  12. My tone gets me in trouble much more often than my actual words. I usually don’t even realize that my tone is so biting sometimes. I’ve become more aware of it now that I hear the same tone in my son. Ouch! Now I know what I sound like. I’m working on me and also helping him see the power of tone.

  13. Boy – this one hits aweful close to home! I struggle with the very same thing. I am impatient with my children and sharp with my husband. It is something that I definetely need to work on! I have been trying to “sing” even when I feel like yelling. It came from the Love and Logic book – and when I remember to do it, it does change the tone of everything!

  14. I am guilty of struggling with my words too! Unfortunately, my husband is the one at the receiving end. i was listening to a Kay Arthur broadcast focusing on James 1:19-20 and the importance to “speak and slow” to anger. It seems like my mouth has a mind of its own sometimes.

  15. Wow, that’s me. I hate it when I hear it come out of me, but it’s always the people I love the most who get the brunt of it. Thanks for this really gentle, convicting reminder. I’m going to write this verse on my fridge 🙂

  16. Yes, my tone is a problem too. One I am actually seeking to fix! It’s on my goal list for 2011–my year of change, one thing at a time. I will be focusing a whole month on keeping my tone of voice gracious, even during discipline. I can be stern without being harsh. By the grace of God, we’ll make this happen!
    Thank you for sharing your heart. Perhaps we can work on this together? I will be posting my goals on my blog and the steps to reach them, as simple as I can make them. 🙂 It’s time to take action! 🙂

  17. It’s sounds like we have this in common- especially when it’s crunch time and everyone is moving too slowly.

    The other day my son told a friend of mine that the only part of homeschooling he didn’t like was that sometimes mommy yelled at him. Right then my heart crumbled. Did I really yell that much? That night we made a pact that I would really try to stop yelling. He’s 9 so I told him he could help by really trying to be focused when I ask him to do something and I would try to be more patient. Well, with a conscience effort and continual prayer, we’ve gone a week and a half with no yelling. It’s a beautiful start.

    Thank you for your honesty with this post, I know a lot of us can relate.

  18. All my life I’ve been told “it’s NOT what you say Kelly, it’s HOW you say it.”

    It’s taken me a very long time to finally get that and I learned it through my children. Our 7 year old is very quick witted and often gets play-on-words other children her age do not. It’s quite alarming to HEAR how you sound coming from your sweet child’s mouth.

    My husband and I are working really hard not to raise our voices with the children. Again a lesson learned through our 4 year old who was having difficulty finding his “inside voice”.

    I’m grateful I am not alone in the fact I am not perfect. 🙂

  19. From reading the preceding comments, it sounds like I am not the only one who recognized myself in your words today. Nice to know I’m in good company! I was so crabby the other evening–I don’t even know why. But I kept nagging and snapping at my daughter. I felt so terrible afterwards.

    I heard a sermon awhile back about “speaking the blessing.” The pastor said that we can use our words to speak a blessing on those around us. I love that image. I don’t often live up to it, but it is a reminder to catch myself when I am speaking unkindly.

    I also read recently about a question we can ask ourselves before we speak. Is what I’m about to say an improvement on silence? That might help me bite my tongue!

    And when we fail? All we can do is apologize. I went to my daughter and told her I was in a crabby mood, that she had done nothing to deserve my tongue lashing, and that I was sorry. And she modeled God’s forgiveness by forgiving me.

    • I love that question! I will definitely be using that one and sharing it with my kiddos. Thanks for sharing!

  20. I can’t even tell you how much this post hit me right between the eyes! This is something I’ve struggled with my whole life and now I see my oldest struggle with it too. I have been trying much harder to take a few deep breaths before snapping so that I can teach him by example. Thanks so much for this post!

  21. Wow, busted here, too. I tend to get “the tone” more readily toward the people I’m most comfortable with & who love me unconditionally – husband, kids, Mom. Why?? I love them best! I’m grateful they have called me out on it a few times, but I still don’t realize I’m being that way until “the tone” is followed by “the look.” Thank you for your transparency & further opening our eyes.

  22. Were you at my house this morning? 😉

    Guilty as charged. I am the one who takes the girls to school in the mornings and this morning my husband offered to take them. I guess my tone was that of “mama is losin’ it” one too many times.

    Great reminder Jessica. I am going to print that Bible verse and post it ON MY FOREHEAD as a reminder!

  23. I really get this, however my issue isn’t the tone so much as the sarcasm. Instead of really share what I want to say or need to say I come up with some witty sarcastic responce or statement… they cut deep I know! Thank you for the reminder to keep our mouth in check… In James it talks about how if we can learn to control our mouth we can control our whole body!!

  24. Oh, yes, this is me too. My kids are young adults now, so I may not speak to them like I used to, however if I am honest, my tone is probably more condescending than I would like. Plus, I am going thru a personal struggle right now, healing from a mental meltdown, and I would like to use that as an excuse to not watch my words or tone. I am far enough along that I should be able to choose to speak kindly amd with respect.
    Thank you for the reminder, painful though it is!
    Bernice
    http://bernicewood.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/i-made-a-mess/

  25. Yes! I too have struggled with my tone my whole life! It’s one of the reasons I remain quiet so often out in public because I know how I might come across. I try to hide it from my friends but I am not so gracious out in public, to people I don’t know. Often though, I am told I don’t come across as harshly as I think I do in my head… But I DO know I can be harsh at home for sure.

  26. It’s rude to write about me without my permission! 😉

    You know God’s trying to GET THROUGH TO YOU when every message/lesson/blog/Bible Study conversation is about similar topics. God wants to CHANGE MY HEART … which will lead to the CHANGING of my WORDS and TONE.

    Now if only that change wasn’t so dag-nab HARD! Shooey. Okay … going to meditate on that verse today and TRY HARDER … while leaning on HIS GRACE.

    Blessings to us all as we learn to adjust our tone and use our words to BLESS and BUILD, rather than curse and destroy!!

  27. Yuck. I’m sure not liking that I have to add myself to this list of those needing a tone adjustment. But I’m sure grateful for this post. Thank you!

  28. Thank you for this post..it really hit home. I catch myself sometimes with the nastiest, most urgent and grouchy tone that I would never dream of using outside my home. What a great reminder.

  29. Today’s post really hit me to the core. It’s something that I have struggled with my whole life. Many, many arguments with my mom growing up were due to my tone. I know that I still have troubles with it, but continue to work on it (I think I do need to pray about it more and ask God to help me). Thank you for the timely message.

  30. My husband and I both have a hard time controlling our tone of voice with each other and with others. We don’t mean to sound snarky but we do and I don’t like it. We both have to keep trying harder not to sound so snarky and to only speak with love to each other and with understanding with everyone else.

  31. When you try to control things that are out of your control, you lose control of yourself.

    This is often my biggest problem. My anger comes when things outside my control are not going as I would like (e.g. children moving too slowly in the morning, not getting their chores/responsibilities done, husband not doing things like I do, etc.). My words then are harsh, loud, often yelling. It seems that though I hate this about myself and wish I would change, I too often just keep on going on that direction instead of finding out how to change or even making the effort.

    I do wish my husband would speak with grace to me as your husband did with you. He said it in such a way that you could hear his meaning–that he wants you to be better, to be more like Jesus; not that he was berating you or trying to make you feel bad for the way you spoke. My husband often does try to speak gracefully and in a way that is nonthreatening to me to help me see my error without being judgmental. But as all of us are wont to do, he occasionally fires right back with the same tone, which angers me more!

    I’ve read many of the earlier posts and like many of them, my children often sound to each other or to me like I do to them. That’s the worst part. I’m teaching my children to speak hastily, hatefully, and with contempt in their voices. Oh, God, save me from this wretched pit of sinfulness!

  32. This makes my stomach upset. lol. -I was schooled on this last week, at work. Albeit, it was in email; i think you have to be even more careful in email “tone,” “flow,” “word choice.”

    Although, I started the email “with all due respect,” the email tone/flow went downhill from there…..

    Guilty, but forgiven. 🙂
    Reese

  33. You know, I have to work on the tone IN MY HEAD. It doesn’t come out of my mouth often, but I THINK it. Which is just as bad. It still conditions my heart and that is never a good thing.

  34. So much of my problem lies in the poor quality of the “meditations of my heart,” which too quickly become the words flowing out of my mouth and straight toward my family when I’m tired and/or frustrated. Thanks for the reminder of the importance and power of psalm 19:14.

  35. What a great reminder. You are so right in that communication is about much more than just the words strung together, coming out of our mouths. It also means how we say them, what our hands and bodies and faces and eyes say, too.

    What a good, practical reminder.

    Thanks for sharing this, today . . .

  36. I’m sooooo bad at this! Like you, my problem isn’t so much what I say, but how I say it. I tend to sound much angrier and ruder than I’m feeling – especially to my parents and little sister =S

    But as I’m seeking God, and aiming to be gentle and radiate His beauty, I’m getting there…slowly but surely 🙂

    God bless.

  37. Oh my goodness how I struggle in this area. I sometimes do hear myself and I think “What if my heavenly Father spoke to ME that way?”

  38. Thank you for this post. Once again I found myself from (in)courage blog post =). Sometimes – for example today and yesterday – my boyfriend noted me on my bossy, harsh words and tone. “Don’t talk like that!” Yeah, that’s not nice and now I realize it =(. And I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t done anything to remind myself to reflect God’s love through my words… I don’t know. But at least if I’m angry and feel like talking bad words I use softer, replacing swearing words which are actually funny =). So yes, I still remember every time that God doesn’t like me talking bad way.

  39. I am reminded once more of the Scripture “a soft tongue breaketh the bone” and challenged to keep a soft tongue and use it wisely.

  40. […] dirty (which I don’t handle well). Yesterday, I was catching up on Incourage and there was this article. I read several of the comments and just felt encouraged knowing that other Christians struggle […]

  41. can you elaborate on this part more? it stuck out to me, yet i don’t quite comprehend it..
    “The very representation of God in our lives is often manifested in our words.”

  42. This shot right to my heart, as I’m the same way. I often think that if I could just see myself , hear myself, like others do I’d often change my tone. I don’t do it to be hateful but it’s all too easy for my impatience or tiredness to creep into my voice and I know it’s something I must work on.