(I have to say this blog took a turn that I wasn’t expecting! This is a perfect example of God’s leading.)
I am not the most gifted speaker. Some may find this ironic because I love to talk. But I get my words jumbled and lose my train of thought quite often; it doesn’t always flow very easily. I admire those that open their mouths and it is just so eloquent. I struggle because my brain is faster than my tongue. My mind is speedily sifting through topics and my mouth is still trying to spit out the last words from two topics ago. My head is rushing and my mouth is saying wait, I didn’t finish.
I often get ignored. I guess a better way to put it is: I often lose people. Actually most of the time, this happens. I will start a story, I’ve got their full attention and then I come to a “Y” in my brain. Do I choose the path with the short version of the story or do I stop while I am ahead – while they are still listening. Every time – because I love to talk – I walk down the path of the longer version; the path that leads to the loss of their attention. Picture this: I am driving on a road. Up ahead, I see a line across the road. The line means I need to stop. It represents, I’ve said too much – time to stop. Nearly every conversation of mine has that line. I approach it in my head. I slow down. Yet every time I think to myself, eh they’re still listening so my mouth keeps speaking. I cross the line, then boom! I quickly lose them. There’s always a period right before the line in the road. A moment where I could end the conversation, but I always seem to change it to a comma or a semi-colon. They shift. They look away. Sometimes they even interrupt or walk away. I repeat the last sentence again. I fruitlessly try to rein them back into my world.
I get so discouraged.
A while back I finally ask myself if it was me, or was it them. I think it’s both.
I have a tendency to take the L. O. N. G. version on every single conversation. I cannot, I mean cannot, leave out even a tiny detail. It is important, after all, to me. I believe these important-to-me tidbits are probably useless to the average ear. In my head, while I’m talking, my brain is yelling, take the short version! Take the short version! I usually don’t listen, probably because my mouth is still talking. I can’t blame the hearer for losing their focus. Maybe their brain is calling out, brain overload – make it stop! (ha!)
More than my sometimes overwhelming desire within me to talk is the issue of my lacking any adult conversation during the day. I love my boys, but let’s face it, talking to a threenager, a ”terrible twos”-year-old and a nearly eight-month-old does not satisfy my need for adult conversation. So when my husband comes home or I get out of the house it becomes even tougher to keep my mouth shut.
The reason I said it’s both (me and them) is because we’re in too much of a rush in this world. Without going into a whole other monolog about it, I will say simply: we need to slow down. We need to take time to listen to each other. Put down the phones, the book and the TV remote. This advice is for me as well. As the excessive speaker, I need to listen just as much as I speak, and maybe even more. Ever heard the saying, that’s why God made two ears and only one mouth? So we can do twice as much listening as talking.
This is why I like blogging! I don’t have to worry about the receivers’ ears. I don’t need to worry about their distraction level. There are no lines to cross. There is no punctuation to change. No telling myself to take the short version. It is what it is. My story is my story. You read it or you don’t. Beyond that, I have time to think about it and to go back and edit it and make it eloquently flow. Or to not post it at all (which I admit is tough, especially when I feel I have something important to say). None of this is easy and it’s nearly impossible in daily conversations!
(Here’s the “turn” in the blog.)
What is the root of the issue though? And what does the Bible say about it? I have been seriously praying about this! I have something important to say; my story needs undivided attention. It far outweighs the importance of everything else on another’s agenda. They need to listen to me when I talk. It’s a heart issue; it’s selfishness. Matthew 12:34, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. There is nothing wrong with talking but there are times when choosing to be silent is far better. Maybe I shouldn’t be considering where the line is on the road of conversation, but instead not even walking the road. I’ve often went back over a conversation in my head and thought, that was dumb; why did I even say that? Should’ve just kept my mouth shut.
The verses below are addressing the issue of what comes out of the mouth not necessarily how much but…when words are many transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (Proverbs 10:19). The more you say the more risk of error or foolishness. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about this, because there is wise talk and there is foolish. The righteous in these verses refers to the wise person, whereas the wicked is referring to the foolish person. Here are just a few verses:
On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found. (You can’t understand unless you hear first. Perhaps I even speak before I listen? Sometimes what a person says does not warrant a story from me.)
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
the heart of the wicked is of little worth.
The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,
but the perverse tongue will be cut off.
The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,
but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.
Is what I have to say so important that it can’t be kept to only me? Ephesians 4:29 says, let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Though telling a story about my life or something that happened to me is hardly considered corrupting talk, it may not be considered good for building up. I have to ask myself, is the hearer any worse off if I don’t share my story? Or would it be encouraging and uplifting to them?
In a simple, I-see-the-line-in-the-road-and-I’m-going-to-stop conclusion, I need to do twice as much listening as talking, know when to just be silent, shorten my versions, and do more blogging (ha!).