It was about 6 weeks ago when I first started thinking about this "Salty Speech" thing - way back in April - and long before the last Grace Habit post. The idea of salty speech grew out of the Grace Habit - because just like daily soaking in God's presence had a spill-over effect on my thoughts - the effect on thoughts began to spill over into speech.
Okay - about that ... there are conversations I've had just this week - today even - that I would not mind having some sort of supernaturally powered fairy-wand that would allow me to dive back into the ether of space and time and suck those words back up. Whether that means that those words would then make my whole mouth taste like "crow" or "humble-pie" for the rest of the day - doesn't matter. It'd be worth it. I say this not because I've been "more awful than ever" today ... but rather because not only wasn't I more awful than ever - but because - what if I could learn to intentionally lay down each word - considered and hand-picked - just for that moment - just for that conversation. Dangerous thinking. Right? But is it really? Is this one of who-knows-how-many ways to be "slow to speak?" (James 1:19)
This project has mostly been a pleasant little adventure to create something different from before with my speech and notice how that change sits day after day. Despite decades walking with Jesus - everything's somehow come together in such a way as to make the whole topic feel fresh and new. To land in a pile of so much "new" - feels absolutely quickening, electrifying, and invigorating. So - it's early on still - but one thing seems very clear - if you want to grab hold of your spiritual growth, if you want to put a big ol' handle on your character - speech seems to be a fine way to do so. And - it's hard to guess who will benefit more - you - or all those around you.
Talk has been floating around health and fitness circles for some time now about "keystone" habits - those habits that make it so much easier to achiever more difficult habits. A simple and benign habit like taking a daily walk for instance - for many people leads far more easily to a goal of "losing 25lb" than tackling that goal directly. (Want to read more about this? Check out this Huffington Post article. Or - read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg - just one of many books that have come out recently on this topic - there are many). Whether or not the Grace Habit, or casting off negative thinking, or speech is a keystone habit for anyone else - we each surely have several or more. You can think about a keystone habit as that one domino - which once toppled - sets off the whole chain reaction - without require any further input or effort. It's an imperfect analogy because no growth in faith happens accidentally - but it can happen and must be able to happen without the oppressiveness of soul-drags like guilt, and "should".
Whether you're reading current social science or psychology research - or you're reading the nearly 2,000 year old book of James 3:2; "For we all stumble in many ways, if anyone does not stumble in what he says - he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well." It seems to me - that speech - is a keystone habit spiritually. The only good way for me to not stumble in what I say is to align my goals with God's goals in such a way that stumbling a little less in what I say is a by-product of turning my heart as hard as I can towards God. I'm nowhere nearly as good as I'd like to be at this - but I more I lean into the Grace Habit the more noticeably disruptive salt-less speech feels ... the more I crave lining my speech up with the love of God the Grace Habit lets me soak in. The less I want to increase the global volume of corrosive racket spilling into the air out of my mouth. It doesn't feel oppressive or burdensome - but rather playful, adventurous, creative and hopeful. This isn't about trying harder, or working harder at it or simply looking in the mirror every morning and saying to myself - again - that I "really should speak better" and "I probably could speak better, and I would probably like it. Honestly - I truly believe that "should" is one of the foulest words in the English language - followed closely could and would.
James 3 goes on to compare attempting to tame the tongue to putting a rudder on a ship, or a bridle into a horse's mouth ... tiny things that exert tremendous influence.
"3 Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires."
So - if your walk with God is rocking - please share your tips and insights - and maybe just enjoy the domino video. But if you're looking for a way to boost your walk and create a different space in your head and around you - maybe speech can give you a bit of that lever by which you can move - if not the world - then at least some hearts - which is still pretty incredible.