I remember the glazed, deer-in-the-headlights look that slowly crept onto others’ faces…
I remember the bazillion thoughts floating around in my head…
And the deep urge to release them all…
I had no idea that I was simply struggling in the journey with immaturity.
And then I ran across the Scripture, “Where words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”
Proverbs 10:19…and the verses through 29 are stellar, also.
My lack of discernment showed itself in a number of ways.
I was the college girl that had the reputation of “talking all the time.” I had the world’s viewpoint, that if there was a silence, I needed to fill it. To be liked, I needed to be speaking, saying funny entertaining things. This is the opposite of Truth.
I was the one who “always had an opinion.” And I shared it. What I didn’t realize at the time was that mature people don’t care who gets credit for the idea, and it’s more valuable to have OTHERS communicate THEIR ideas – because it facilitates buy-in.
And I was confusing to boyfriends. They never knew what was important to me, because I communicated SO MUCH, that it seemed like EVERYTHING was important. I was the college girlfriend who “took ten minutes to say a simple thing.” I exhausted the men in my life. “Get to the point,” my dad used to say to me. Frequently. That man had the patience of Job.
I was a fool.
This morning, when I read Proverbs 4, I ran across Proverbs 4:20, “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.” I realized how much God had changed me from that chatty boor of a ten year old and young woman to the gal I’m still growing into today. I realized something REALLY important – all the years in the communications and public speaking field have taught me to be brief, be concise, and make it easy for my listeners. While no one would describe me as “shy,” one of the biggest changes in my life as a result of choosing to follow Christ at age 22 is the taming of my wild tongue.
I have a short rein, while not perfect, but tight enough to seldom suffer regret and nearly always be listened to when I do choose to offer up an opinion, idea, or thought.
And after my children reached age 11, I started focusing on treating them with respect, asking their permission to speak into their circumstances. Rather than, “You need to…” I started making advice palatable, “I’m not sure this would work, and it might even be a bad idea… was wondering if xyz might help?” And I asked them if they wanted my help with something after empathizing with how they felt about things. Empathizing deeply, not just in passing. It’s respectful, and helped them listen to what I had to offer, often what God was speaking into them.
I try to do the same in my adult relationships, and it makes a difference. Familiarity breeds relational laziness when we start taking people for granted. We have to respect ourselves, behaving as worthy of respect, thus making it easier for others to respect us. Being individuals who constantly “run at the mouth” causes others to regard us with disrespect. We don’t get asked our opinions because people don’t want to listen to ten minutes of dissertation when a brief response would have sufficed.
I know from experience that this is something we can influence.
I chewed on that verse in Proverbs 4 this morning and realized that if I were still communicating with those around me with the plethora of words I used to dump, I would be exhausting those trying to listen. The wisdom God wanted to share with those I influence would not be received, because of the sheer volume of other communication I was dishing.
I am thankful that God has provided me with the opportunity to learn to be brief. And I hope I don’t sound like I think I’m perfect at this, because I’m not. But having spent years coaching others with speaking and saying what I need to say in 90 seconds or less myself, He’s trained me well and I get it right when I’m focused on Him.
It also is my prayer that you hear this testimony this morning, not as an encouragement to consider yourself and womankind as being of “lesser value” than others, but rather a call to wisdom in our communication – beginning with the amount of talking we do. For what it is worth, I’ve seen extreme verboseness as a disease suffered by both genders.
Dare you to ask Him today to help you speak what is necessary, being quick to listen and slow to speak (and even slower to become angry) James 4:19 style. You will bring life to those around you, make them feel important, and begin the journey of changing other’s perceptions of you, if necessary. I want my words to be “salt and light” and regarded with great respect because of being regarded as a woman of strength and dignity. I find when HE is in charge of my words, and I speak what He wants me to, this happens. May it be so for all of us.
Double dog dare you to be brave and go on record with where you are in the journey on this one! What is He doing? What has He done?
Love to you,