The ancient proverb speech is silver, silence is golden was first used in English by poet Thomas Carlyle. This is a tough one for someone like me, who thrives on processing my thoughts and feelings verbally. I considered it more than once this past week when I found myself with almost no voice. I was a few days away from a speaking engagement and felt panicked. Desperate times called for desperate measures and I decided to go silent for 24 hours with the hopes that resting my voice would do the trick. It was harder than I thought.
The first few hours were relatively peaceful as I sat alone in the house with my dog, Einstein. He doesn’t talk much so it worked out pretty well. I just avoided answering the phone and used texting to respond when it was necessary. Then it was time to pick up the kids from school. That’s when it became complicated.
I learned a couple things: I’m a terrible at pantomiming, and I talk A LOT.
I don’t just prattle on and on (although I won’t deny that I can do that on occasion), but I do ask a lot of questions. When my kids got in the car that day I felt completely frustrated. I couldn’t engage them about their day or find out what the afternoon had in store. The rest of the day was full of scribbled notes and gestures. When the two of them got into an argument, I felt paralyzed. What was I to do if I couldn’t use my persuasive words in my motherly persuasive voice? By the end of the day I was completely exhausted.
Funny thing, though: I had just read an interesting proverb a few days before. “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” Proverbs 10:19 (NLT)
God has been speaking to me through verses like this fairly often lately. I had found myself in several conversations where I had said a little too much and ended up in error. And now here I was, silent and frustrated. I couldn’t help but realize the lesson was pretty clear: I had too often given into my emotions. I had chosen “too much talk,” and it had definitely lead to sin.
Have you walked in my shoes before? It can be easy to do. We justify. We excuse. We explain. But all the while God calls out His wisdom.
“If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.” Proverbs 15:31 (NLT)
Do you struggle to stay silent? How do you use wisdom in choosing your words when it’s time to speak?