I’ve lived through the full force of what James equates to in 3:3-12, as a small bit that turns a huge horse’s head, a small rudder that directs a great ship, and a small spark that ignites a forest fire: the tongue.

I’m not remembered for possessing a cheerleader’s figure during high school: my baby fat took its sweet time to shed.

I wasn’t a doughboy; just solid as an iceberg like the one the Titanic collided into. In my late teens the ice began to melt. You would have thought I’d hear praises and accolades of congratulations. But on the contrary, at a family gathering this slithering snake like appendage tightened my yoke of insecurities.

My Uncle cleared his throat. “I just want to say,” he began, “that since Sharon lost her weight . . .” I sat up straighter anticipating the pleasure of his words; “ . . . we can now,” he paused, “be proud of her.” He chuckled. Something had struck me—my cheeks burned. But the anvil of destruction still routed back and forth in my Uncle’s mouth. A funeral like silence filled the room. Gradually a quiet, nervous conversation titled its way towards me, but the words were muffled like in a fog. My future husband squeezed my hand and whispered, “It’s going to be okay.”

By God’s grace I didn’t succumb to anoxia. But the engraving of those words upon my heart stilted my self-image. I felt devalued, imperfect, and that my capabilities meant nothing. I felt ashamed I’d let people down.

No definite descriptions of Jesus exist. Some say he was comely, not striking. But His love and words set hearts free, and changed the world forever. Mother Theresa didn’t spend time at the cosmetic counters, but the stench and filth of where she ministered became sweet morsels to change as her words gave encouragement of hope. Jesus and Mother Theresa lived—

I Thessalonians 5:11: that we are to edify, and bring comfort.

I asked my husband what attracted me to him. He said: “It was what was on the inside: your love for God, the giving, the words of encouragement to others. Then your beautiful smile!”

James continued, “ . . . from the same mouth comes blessings and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be this way” (James 3:10 NKJV). No one should experience hardship from of a small bit, rudder or spark of fire called the tongue. Rather, Psalm 19:14 says we should live the example of Jesus and Mother Theresa: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight.”

I didn’t recover immediately. It took time: my husband’s love, and God’s patience. I had an advocate in Christ. When I accepted the fact that in His eyes, He saw a perfect design, God reached down and “ . . .plucked my feet out from the [tongue’s] net” (Psalm 25:15) and lifted my yoke of insecurities.