A popular acronym advises us to THINK before we speak – to ask ourselves whether what we are about to say is true, helpful, inspirational, necessary, and/or kind. THINK may seem cliched, but it’s still excellent advice. Psalms 50:19-20 speaks to us today when it says:
“You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your kin;
you slander your own mother’s child.”
Our current cultural mix of traditional and social media pushes us to opine on the latest news before it’s fully reported, to become outraged over (non?) events we really know nothing about, and to offer our often uninformed commentary in formats that remove the social buffers normally keeping us civil. The rapid-fire sarcasm and verbal slugfests that pass for dialogue and entertainment frequently have no purpose but shouting our own opinions and displaying our own cleverness.
Fortunately we do have the ability to turn it off. Simply deciding not to respond to every opinion we hear or read can be a solid start. Many people never quite get that concept: they will continue to respond as long as someone else continues to antagonize them. Withdrawal from a contentious non-productive exchange of spoken words, texts, or comment sections is not some admission of defeat. Consciously moving away from violent noise and into silence is an affirmation of peace.
At other times the conversation we need to end is the one we’re having with ourselves. Negative self-talk damages our spirits, and we may need a great deal of counseling to learn to stop it. Wordy prayers that run on and on are not a conversation with God – they are a monologue of doubt and desperation.
Silence, both external and internal, makes space for Elijah’s “still small voice” of God. It gives our thoughts room to expand and mature. It teaches us what is important and what is fleeting. When we regularly seek the peace of silence, we are better prepared when it is time to speak up for matters of justice, mercy, and love.
Comfort: God waits for us in the silence.
Challenge: Find time each day to meditate, unplug, or make whatever arrangements you need to enjoy a period of auditory and mental silence.