Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Holding My Tongue: Spending Three Days in Silence

First, let me reassure you that I have no plans on becoming a monk.  Communication (and especially verbal communication) is such a huge part of my existence.  However, a while back I started to feel a nudge from God to speak less.  As a mother of five children, I find myself saying the most ridiculous things sometimes.  Then, my husband comes home from work after I have been on mama duty nearly twelve hours, and more ridiculousness is uttered.  Have you been there?  Have you ever stopped yourself mid-sentence and thought, "What?"  It would be almost laughable, if it was not for the fact that it is often so hurtful.  After the words come out of my mouth, I often wish I could shove them back in and have a do over.  But, we all know it doesn't work that way.  Once the words are out, the damage is done and then we tend to jump right into damage control mode, often involving more words.  Words on top of words, band-aid on top of band-aid.  But, what if the words never came out in the first place?  What if I allowed God to help me to control my tongue?  After all, gentleness and self control are two Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and sometimes my words are neither gentle or controlled.  Ouch!  

God placed this (his) desire on my heart months ago.  In true procrastinator fashion I have held off, made excuses, and reasoned my way out of participating in an exercise I know God plans to use to grow my faith and continue his pruning.  However, an interesting thing happened in the past two weeks.  Big Sister joined our family.  We went from being a family of six to a family of seven.  I was expecting there be a huge upheaval in our home.  Emotions everywhere.  Protest.  Revolt.  Jealousy.  However, I have been more than pleasantly surprised by essentially the exact opposite happening.  In the midst of this transition, I felt a blanket or peace and calmness wash over our home.  I had been praying for a calm spirit for so long.  So very long.  If you know me, you know that I am not calm.  I am the exact opposite of calm.  I am hyper to be more accurate.  I run ten miles for fun if that tells you anything.  But I digress.  My daily prayers have included praying for calmness in the midst of our daily lives.  I never expected God to dish out the tranquility right in the middle of one of our most stressful transitions, but that is exactly what God chose to do (I believe) to display his faithfulness.  He truly is a God of wonder and mystery.  

Because I feel like God has given me a jump start on becoming a calmer servant, I am not going to let this opportunity go to waste.  It has been a gift, a completely undeserved gift at that.  So, for the rest of this week, I will be praying and observing and preparing for a few days in silence.  Then, starting next Monday, I am going to follow through on what I believe God wants me to do.  That is, spend time in silence throughout the day.  From Monday morning through Wednesday evening, I will not be speaking.  Instead of using words, I will accomplish what needs to be done through gesture and action.  The only words I will be using will be words of encouragement or praise.  As Ephesians 4:29 states, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that is may benefit those who listen."  That is it.  There will be not verbal correction from me, no harsh words, no raised voices, no sarcastic remarks, etc.  Nothing.  Just like most of our moms taught us:  If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.  

There you have it.  This is my experiment to rally against the excess of the words that exit my mouth each day and gain more control over my tongue and hopefully, prayerfully, achieve a more permanent spirit of internal and external calmness.  I am so excited to see what lessons God has in store for me.  There are a few areas that I know need pruning (impulsive, anyone?), but I know God will surprise me over the course of those three days with some hidden treasures.  I know it!  

If anyone is interested in joining me, I would love to journey into silence with you!

Heavenly God, please help me to gain better control of my tongue.  Help me to speak less and listen more.  Help me to hear your calm, still voice and follow your direction.  As Psalm 19:14 prays, I pray, "May the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."  
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  1. Love the concept! It also has me thinking: if we used fewer words, would we listen better? Can't wait to read your blog next week.

  2. Thanks for this post. I will be thinking about it over the weekend. Maybe I will commit to doing it... I need to. For the past year, I've been praying for peace in our home. Maybe this experiment could be a great turning point.

    1. L, that would be great! This is step one for me as well. There is some other training I will be completing after this with my husband, but I just want to calm myself down first. :-)

  3. I'd like to try this. Will you be posting on how your experience goes? I am momma to two Ethiopian toddlers (ages 2 1/2 and 22 months) and find that I spend way too much time in correction (i.e. yelling) and not nearly enough in encouragement. I've got one more nearly 3 year old waiting for me in Ethiopia, so I know the house is only going to get more chaotic. I just saw your post today. I appreciate how honestly you describe your difficulties and your prayerful approach to creating a peaceful and happy home.

    1. Thank you! I commiserate with your preschool filled home! :-) We have three preschool aged kids in the home along with two pre-teens, so like you I realized I was spending way too much time talking and needed to course correct. I will be posting about the experience this weekend for sure, but am also hoping this was just the first step in some big lifestyle changes that will bring the calm back into our home. Where is your three year old waiting? Exciting times!