Read a great article today on boundless.org.
It talks about a woman who decided, during Lent, to "refrain from rushing to explain and defend herself, even when she felt she might not be fully understood." The article said that "this discipline was inspired by the well-known prayer attributed to St. Francis, which includes the line: "O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek ... to be understood as to understand."
Let me tell you a secret...
I love to talk.
If you know me, this may not come as a surprise. ;)
Conversation is great, but as I read this article I can think of plenty of times when I've used my words to fill an uncomfortable silence, defend myself, or make sure others know how important I am.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19)
"grant that I may not so much seek ... to be understood as to understand."
For example, when this woman applied the exercise at home she saw how valuable this discipline can be for relationships. Her husband had said something that she would normally take immediate offense to and react rather quickly by defending herself. Instead of saying anything, she remained silent. After a few moments of her "prayerful silence" her husband apologized. "He knew his words had been hurtful, and her silence gave him the chance to reconsider."
I am guilty of the "quick reply." I agree with the article when it says that there are proper times to speak up ("to defend an innocent person, or to speak the truth boldly to people who are deluded by a lie. ") but there are also moments when words may harm the situation rather than alleviate a problem.
The article ends by saying...
In times when prudence says, "be quiet," your silence can be a statement to God, yourself, and even others that you believe God is really in control and will work things out the way HE wants them. It is an act of faith.
I think it's important to reflect on the ways that we respond to others. Are there times when silence would be more valuable? As a chatty gal, this presents a challenge. It seems an important thing to consider, and in the coming weeks I am going to try and do what my good old friend James says...
be quick to listen, slow to speak