Toothpaste Moments

Danger!
Mouth operates faster than brain.

Toothpaste moments. I heard this term about 4 years ago in a professional development class and thought the analogy was spot on.

Toothpaste moments. We’ve all had them.

Toothpaste moments. The very moment when your brain kidnaps common sense and better judgement and leaves the building…and then you speak. Moments that are like squeezing too much toothpaste out of the tube…no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot put it back into the tube where it belongs. There it is. Squeezed out all over the toothbrush, counter and sink. You’re probably wearing some of it as well.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
~James 3:7-8

Words hurt. While there are no physical scars with words, the emotional scars last a long time. Every time we spew caustic comments or remarks directly at another person, it hurts. And, if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that’s exactly why we do it. We want to hurt them…but don’t want to leave any physical evidence of our assault. When done intentionally on a consistent basis, we call this emotional abuse. It doesn’t matter if it’s directed at our children, spouse, parents, friends, co-workers, complete strangers or the dog.

But what about those times when caustic remarks are shot in the heat of the moment…but we sincerely regret saying them after we’ve cooled off? Those are toothpaste moments. We’re sorry we squeezed them out all over the other person, but we simply can’t put them back in our mouths. They’re out there. And now, all we can do is apologize and try and clean up the mess we’ve made.

Intentional or not, there are times when we’re all as skilled with words as our weapon of choice as a master swordsman. And equally destructive. Solomon and James had a lot to say about our tongue.

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
~Proverbs 12:18

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.
It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire,
and is itself set on fire by hell.
~James 3:6

Did you know the tongue is mentioned more than 90 times in the bible? Most of the time not in flattering terms. I suppose that’s also why forgiveness (and all variations of the word) is mentioned more than 100 times. Guess God knew we’d need a way to combat the destructiveness of this dangerous weapon.

Perhaps Peter said it best, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech ~1 Peter 3:10.

Toothpaste moments. Like toothpaste, it’s best to keep them inside our mouths.

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6 thoughts on “Toothpaste Moments

  1. It seems we’re more caustic with the ones we love because we expect them to forgive us before anyone else. Always best to think before you speak…something I’m really working on.

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  2. Toothpaste moments – love it. I’d never heard that before. Like toothpaste, caustic words spoken in the heat of the moment make a mess that can be very very hard to clean up. Sometimes they leave a stain that never goes away. Your words are wise.

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