How a Willow Tree Made Me Eat My Words

“You did it on purpose!” The words shot from my mouth, projected through lips squashed into a tight line. Hot tears stung my cheeks. I was certain he didn’t care. I wanted to make him.slow to speak

For months I’d nursed a weeping willow sapling, hoping to transplant it to a more permanent home in our lawn. I love the graceful waves of branches on a full-grown weeping willow. My husband only sees the mess those branches make.

Nevertheless, my sons and I had climbed an adult willow, pruned off a branch, sprouted roots in water, and planted it in a sheltered nursery garden.

With eagerness, I’d watched it cling to life and finally take off. Soon, I’d be able to move it. However, as I mowed around the small nursery garden that day, I noticed my little willow was gone, obviously struck down by a weed whip.

I knew my husband had weed-whipped that morning. I knew he didn’t like the tree. I knew he whipped it down on purpose.

With each round on the mower, my anger grew. Ugly thoughts of past hurts bubbled to the surface, being relived in my self-righteous mind. Certain my vehemency was  justified, I glared at my husband as he smiled at me from the tractor.

Confused, my long-suffering man finally demanded an explanation for the daggers I was shooting in his direction. I took full advantage of the opportunity, determined to make him feel my fury. Only in the end, I had to sheepishly retract my words  as he assured me he would never do such a thing purposely. He hadn’t even seen the little tree among the tall grasses that surrounded it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to eat my words. Often I blurt before I speak, only to be frantically stuffing the words back in a split second later. (Which doesn’t work by the way.)

Which begs the question: We were given one mouth and two ears. Why are we so quick to speak and so slow to listen? 

My problem with speaking rashly revolves around pride and self-righteousness: My feelings get hurt. I think I’ve been wronged. I replay the past infractions against me.

I let those destructive thoughts simmer for awhile, stirring them up with righteous spices that proclaim my worth, until finally, the brew can be contained no longer. It bubbles out from under the lid, full of steam and burns whoever it comes in contact with.

Oh, to have a lock on that lid!

I let this happen with the willow tree incident. I accused my husband because I was hurt; I felt he had wronged me in the past; and in my mind he had motive (he “never liked the tree anyway”). Reassuring myself that I’d never do anything like that to him, I wanted him to feel my pain.

In reality, my husband was taking care of me by trimming the lawn.

I’m still chewing on those words spoken in anger and self-righteousness.

Thankfully, I’m discovering some techniques that reduce my destructive habit of speaking rashly:

  • Don’t speak. Specifically, don’t let the angry words slip past your lips. Ask the Lord to put His hand over your mouth.
  • Wait until you’ve calmed down to address the issue. It may end up not being an issue at all.
  • Never dig up past hurts to add fuel to the fire. Bury them … deeply.
  • Ask for clarification before accusing. It would have saved me from some embarrassing moments.
  • Finally, lead with grace.

It’s not easy to hold in the words when you feel wronged. But next time it happens, in the split second before you let your fury fly, try simply holding up two fingers. Let those fingers be reminders that we were created with two ears and only one mouth so as to listen attentively and speak slowly (James 1:19).

This simple act would have saved me a world of regret.

“The intelligent person restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a man of understanding (Proverbs 17:27).

Share in the Discussion: Can you think of an instance when you spoke rashly? What could you have done to help the situation?


By His grace ≈


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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

4 comments on “How a Willow Tree Made Me Eat My Words
  1. Susan Ouverson says:

    Julie, You are so wise! I pray I’m this wise when I get to be your age! Okay, I’m way older then you, I’m so thankful for you!

    • juliesunne says:

      Are you kidding, Sue! I just fake it well. No, really, I’ve learned much from watching my “sisters” in action with their spouses. And don’t worry, I still regularly eat my words. 🙂

  2. dianewbailey says:

    Stopping by from Ann’s place. Don’t we all speak before chewing words well? Great advice for changing our ways.

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