Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Power of Silence

She just kept starring at me!

No nod of affirmation.  No scowl of disapproval.

Just a steady, unflinching gaze that unnerved me more with every passing second.

I was twenty-one years old and trying to express to my trusted friend a plan I'd formulated.  Within the first five sentences, I knew the plan that had seemed so reasonable as I turned it over and over in my head...........SOUNDED wrong.  Completely wrong!

Tricia knew it too and that's why she was starring at me.  Not with a look of disbelief or judgment.  Just listening - intently.

I should have sighed deeply and given up on the plan.  But NO!

I was already emotionally invested in this plan and I had to see it through!  Getting Tricia to agree with me was the first step that would send me on down the course I'd mentally plotted.

She continued to stand there like some sentinel guarding the truth.  And the longer she remained silent, the more I babbled.  Even revealing points of the plan I had no intention of revealing to anyone!  EVER!!

After several minutes of my impassioned plea, Tricia quietly asked one very pointed question.  It was the final shot that brought down my poorly conceived balloon.  And I knew I had to chose a different course of action.  Unbelievable! 

For most of my life words and their power have been a natural gifting for me.  But that day, I learned a valuable lesson about the power of SILENCE!

Tricia served as a trusted friend who knew what meant most to me.  This plan was wrong!  She confidently held to the rudder of truth while my boat of thinking bounced around on the rapids of decision.

She knew that her opinion wasn't the important issue.  She trusted that I was smart enough to come to the right conclusion.  She prayed while listening.

I recognized the power her silence had exercised over me and began to study how to implement it in my own life.  When words are your natural gifting, you have to practice silence!

You know how you can be standing with someone and their hurtful comment stings badly?  You get into your car and immediately the most awesome retort hits your brain.  I mean the perfect zinger that would cause everyone to step back in awe?!

"Man, I wish I'd thought to say..........."

Yeah well, I was the kind of person who didn't have to wait until getting into my car.

Zingers.  One liners.  Verbal slaps.  I was never at a loss for words!

And while usually everyone roared with laughter ( I'm not mean at heart), many times I felt badly and wished I could take back a statement. 

Perhaps that's why Tricia's example of silence had such impact on me.

It took years of intentional practice!

At one point in my life, the Lord had me rehearse over and over this one phrase:
                                           STUDY TO BE QUIET!

For almost eighteen months when I would begin my devotional time, that phrase would come without bidding to my heart.  And I would repeat it again and again.

When I would get into my car and begin a quick trip to the store, "Study to be Quiet!" 

While cooking dinner.  Organizing home school books.  Feeding the dog.  Sweeping the floor.  "Study to be Quiet!"

(Perhaps I'm not the quick study I thought myself to be!)

Then I came across a great adage that I began teaching the girls:
                                     "Only a fool tells all that he knows!"

That one phrase became a benchmark for my little girls as they grew up in a pastor's home.  It gave them the tool they needed in order to not feel they were hiding something or lying if someone asked probing questions they couldn't answer.

(Granted, church people shouldn't ask the pastor's young children probing questions.  But we don't live in a perfect world, do we?)

Now, as adults charged with holding confidences and maintaining trusts, this is a habit for them.   A natural part of life and character.  "Only a fool tells all that he knows!"

I'm so very thankful the Lord challenged me to learn the power of silence.  It did not come easily!

Even today, if you watch carefully, you can sometimes catch me placing a finger over my lips while listening.  That's not just a reflective position.

It's an attempt to capture the words pounding against my lips; demanding expression!

Ah, I can see from your smile that you know exactly what I mean!

Perhaps we would all benefit from a little more listening and a lot less talking.

There's power in that silence!  Wield it carefully!

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