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Whoever said “Life begins after 50” must have had an unusual sense of humor.

If you define “life” as waking up with aches and pains, eating foods that don’t contain sugar, starch, carbohydrates, salt, or anything remotely related to taste, then that definition is a spot-on match.

If living the “life” means wanting to go to bed at 9 p.m., and the idea of a date is going to the doctor, dentist, or any other health care related appointment, then I’m “large and in charge.”

However, I’m not giving up on getting back into shape, having vision in both eyes, and teeth that stay in place and can chew any reasonable steak and baked potato (salad optional).

Speaking of teeth, I recently visited the dentist and was given the positive news that I needed a bridge. I see this as positive news because a bridge is something that allows you to get from one place to another.

In the case of a tooth bridge, the food is able to get from the mouth to the stomach without getting choked. Yes, this is definitely a positive thing.

The tough part of this process is that the actual bridge building takes place in your mouth while you are wide awake. Even though the dentist numbs your jaw where the bridge is going to be built, there is still some discomfort involved.

Take for instance the fingers of the dentist and his assistant in your mouth working on the bridge, as well as all the instruments that are being used to complete the task. Halfway through the bridge building the dental assistant said to me, “Tell your tongue to relax.” To which I replied, “My ungla gaa a hensa of itz hown,” which means, “My tongue has a mind of its own.”

I am impressed how my dentist can understand me when my mouth is numb while fingers and other objects are crammed in my mouth.

I did not know it, but my tongue was investigating the intruders in his domain. I guess my tongue was not in favor of the bridge and was protesting the best way it could, by getting in the way.

This is not the first time my tongue has gotten me into trouble. It seems to have a mind of its own, and is willing to share its opinion on any subject without consulting with my brain. When this happens, it rarely has a good ending. I have to watch my tongue to make sure it doesn’t put the rest of my body in danger.

James 3:5-8 tells us, “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

Why do we need to know this? Because we need to be aware that at any time the tongue can lash out at someone without thought or warning. It is up to us to guard our tongues, to make sure this rarely happens. Proverbs 17:27 says, “He who has knowledge spares his words.”

My tongue may have a mind of its own, but if I close my lips and clinch my teeth, the false ones and the real ones, the best it can do is mumble.

Today, before you speak, make sure that your tongue is under control and the words that you utter are always honoring God and uplifting. Remember, don’t give in to sin. Think about it.

Vince Hefner is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Cherryville.

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