You've heard of the "Quarantine 15" I'm sure, but have you heard of "Quarantine Tongue"? Probably not since I didn't even hear about it until about 5 minutes ago when I came up with the phrase.
Quarantine Tongue is my way of describing what happens when you are cooped up in a house with people you are normally able to leave for 2-10 hours daily. All of their idiosyncrasies, all of their thoughts and opinions, their annoying Celtic music, that dumb show where people mock bad movies, and all of their undone chores which used to be a novelty are now on display 24-7, and your tongue which has normally been such a well-trained tool to build up and encourage suddenly rebels and becomes a raging beast with teeth bared and claws out tearing up whatever it may devour.
Or is that just me?
I'm guessing it's been all of us. I know it has because James tells about this "restless evil" that is our tongue. "With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God." (James 3:9) Throughout chapter 3 James tells us about all of the animals we have tamed, about forests set on fire by a small flame, and how something as small as a rudder can steer a giant ship. "So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things." (James 3:5) This "small member" can destroy reputations and relationships. James goes on to say in verse 13 we must show our works "in the meekness of wisdom".
Ah, wisdom. Let's go to Proverbs. Specifically, Proverbs 15 to see what wise King Solomon had to say about this restless evil inside us.
"A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath." --Proverbs 15:1
How do you say the things you say? "Are you EVER going to put that away?" "I see you FINALLY got around to cleaning the garage." "You haven't watched everything on Disney+ YET?!" "Mac and cheese and hot dogs AGAIN. Greeeaaat."
Each of these phrases is someone "stirring up wrath". Someone who's had enough. Someone who is not ready to give a "gentle answer". All of these comments could be very real, and the person speaking them could be wanting to say them in a way to get a positive response, but I would doubt that will happen.
Think of one of those scenarios above and think how you would respond to someone saying one of those comments... Ugly, right? Yeah, me too.
Now, think of the above scenario where you would like to make one of those comments. What might be a better way to phrase it? "Thank you for cleaning the garage. It's been needing it." "Thanks for another great supper! How about I order pizza for supper tomorrow?"
Being thankful first off is a great place to start! But being careful to not hide anything nefarious in the gratitude is key. That thankful spirit can help set aside the evil tongue and bring out the meek wisdom. You still get your point across without the collateral damage along the way.
Maybe try it today.