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How to Avoid Being a Travel Agent for Guilt Trips - Girlfriends in God - August 25, 2014

August 25, 2014
How to Avoid Being a Travel Agent for Guilt Trips
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

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 (Ephesians 4:29, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I had taken Steven to an amusement park for a mother-son day before he started fourth grade. It was hot, the lines were long, and I began to feel queasy from being gyrated and jerked to sudden stops from 60 miles per hour.

We were on a ride called The Log Flume, which was like riding a rollercoaster seated in a log, and being thrown into a pool of water at the end. Lovely. Feeling quite the martyr, I was just about to remind Steven how lucky he was to have a mother like me to bring him to a place like this.

But before the words escaped from my mouth, the Holy Spirit gently stopped me. Was that what I really wanted to say? Would those words make Steven feel “lucky” or would they make him feel guilty, as though he owed me something?

Instead of uttering my initial thought, I wrapped my arms around my precious young son and said, “Steven, I am so lucky to have a son like you that I can bring to a place like this!”

With those words, a dimpled smile spread across his precious face, and I was thankful for the splash of the watery roller coaster that disguised the tears streaming down my face.

If I had spoken that first sentence, Steven would not have felt lucky to have a mom like me at all. He would have felt guilty, and that he needed to pay me back for my “kindness.” However, the revised version made him feel special, treasured, and loved.

Now, who was encouraged? Actually, we both were.

Perhaps you have some old tapes from your past that you tend to replay with your own children. Did your mother make comments that caused you to feel guilty or as if you were indebted to her for the care she gave you? Perhaps she still does. Many moms could be travel agents for guilt trips. Is that how you want to be remembered?

Guilt is like verbal heartburn or acid reflux of the soul. It just keeps on coming back and coming back. But we can change the verbal menu and decide not to serve up a dish of words that cause indigestion! And that’s with everyone you speak to, not just kids.

I had success with my words that day at the amusement park, but not every day has been a banner day. I have used my words to tear down instead of build up. I have failed many times. The tongue is difficult to control. It can only be tamed by the power of the Holy Spirit and practice.

But here’s what I do know: You and I can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, and that includes controlling the words we speak. Let’s practice together!

Let’s Pray

Dear LORD, help me not to let any unwholesome word come out of my mouth today, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. If my words are not helpful, help me keep my mouth shut. If they build others up, may I speak them freely and frequently.

In Jesus’ Name,


Now It’s Your Turn

OK, this is a tough one. If you’re reading this devotion in the morning, I want you to pay attention to the words you speak today.

As you go through the day categorize your spoken words as:

Helpful or Hurtful
Uplifting or Deflating
Encouraging or Discouraging

If you are reading this devotion at the close of the day, you’re not off the hook. This is your assignment for tomorrow.

I’d love to hear how you did. Click over to my Facebook page and tell me the name of one person you encouraged with your words today. If you don’t know the person’s name, that’s OK, just describe the incident (such as the gal at the checkout counter, the waiter, the bank teller).

While we’re at it, let me encourage you. I’m so thankful for you, and I’m so proud of you for seeking God through our daily devotions. His face is shining upon you!

More from the Girlfriends

Paul said that it was impossible to control the tongue, and I agree. However, what is impossible for man is more than possible with God! He can do it! We simply need to participate with prayer and practice. If you need a little help, see my book The Power of a Woman’s Words.

On September 8, 2014, I’ll begin my on-line fall Bible Study on The Power of a Woman’s Words. I have the book and Bible study guide specially priced for the months of August and September. Those who sign up will receive access to free video lessons and a free video viewing guide. Click here to view a sample video lesson. This is perfect for church groups, small groups, or individual study. Click here to sign up and learn more. We’re going to learn about the power we possess, the people we impact, and the potential to change. Hope to see you there!

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