Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shut up...

A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness. (Proverbs 12:23)

"Your mouth is both your greatest gift and your greatest burden." Ellen Brennan; AKA Mom to me.
Not always so sure how to take this one. My mom was one of those strong, silent, and stoic types. She kept her options open by not showing her hand. I would say it made her appear unfeeling at times. In retrospect it wasn't coldness, just not a willingness to share her heart when it was broken. Not being the silent type, I know I often confused her silence for rejection. I would often fill that silence with aimless chatter.
Most of my life I felt I owed an explanation for my actions to anyone who seemed to want to know. It would be into my thirties before I would understand the gift of silence. I slowly learned that I only play to an audience of One.
But a lesson that came more slowly was the comfort of silence. I tend towards putting people at ease by making conversation with them. It is a gift my husband appreciates when we attend an event where we don't know anyone. He hates making conversation with strangers and tends to be the wall flower. I however can make a new dear friend in the ladies room bonding over toilet paper.
I began to learn this skill of silence when I was still a very young nurse. There would be patients I would chat with, learn their loves and hates. Sometimes they would call me in, just to hang out with them. I completely enjoyed being with them! But there were others that wanted nothing to do with my chattiness. I remember at the time referring to them as the cranky type. I never realized it had nothing to do with crankiness but rather my own selfishness. I am at ease when I can put others at ease with my humor or words. I have come to realize that what can be a gift can also be my greatest burden. While I was still working this past year, there were nights my patient was all about chatting with me, while there were other nights he would be stone silent. I hated those nights! I had to fight my own insecurity to fill the silence. It was not his job to make me feel comfortable while I cared for him. It was my job to be available when he did want someone to talk with.
So how in the world do you know when to do what? When do you chat and when do you remain silent?
Wisdom knows the difference. The answer is in that verse above from Proverbs. If we are prudent and seek after wisdom, God's word tells us He will be generous to give it. Sometimes the person we encounter honestly does not like us and wants no part in our chatter, other times, it is simply a matter of someone who is more than happy with the quiet. While still others are thrilled to share their story or hear ours. Only wisdom will give us the insight to know for sure.
I am sure that sometimes I error on the side of saying too much. Sometimes I error on the side of saying too little. But I can rest in the fact that my God loves me in spite of myself.

How about you?
Are you a chatter caring for the silent type? Are you the silent type annoyed by the chatter? Are you both quiet, are you both noisy? Do you complement each other? Do you see the gift in each other? How or how not?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, I pray we come to You, to hear from Heaven, and be still. Let us rest not in our ability to put others at ease, but rather in knowing that we are subject to your authority over us. When You call the chatterboxes to quiet stillness and the stoic silent types to reach beyond comfort, we know that You will give us both the grace and ability to be who You called us to be. Thank You for creating us the way You have and for showing us how deeply we are loved. We are made in your image and we rest in Your favor. Amen.

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