I’m going to jump right in, OK? Great.
Do you have moments when you reeeeeeeeally want to speak up, but you know it would be a waste of breath? I mean, a true expulsion of your precious oxygen?
Me too. So, how do you handle it?
In those moments, an tidal wave of itchy annoyance barrels through my core. My listening elevates to a hypersensitivity mode like I’m a seasoned member of the X-Men. It feels like someone turned a secret volume knob behind my ears. I may stretch my neck a little, but my default internal setting is to throttle down to quietness. Like non-existent audio. When this mode is activated, I know it is best for me to hush, work on something else, or leave the area.
Can you relate? Do you have moments when it is best for you to shut up, but the words are bouncing between your jaws like they are in a WWE match waiting for a chance to tag team someone’s comment and break through your lips? It can be downright frustrating, but the icing on the cake is when your intelligence is insulted.
Whew. Y’all… the evil forces know this is an area of progress for me. When someone combats with false information, THEN dismisses my well-informed input…? That’s it. Cue the X-Men ears and wrestling ring of words ready to break out. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the Holy Spirit has to tighten my bridle.
Don’t get me wrong – there are divine opportunities for clarity and structure to be verbalized. The key word is divine. Every moment of discourse is not designated for your mouth to open. You have to know when those times are set before you and when they are a trap. Check out the following verse –
Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.– Proverbs 17:28 (New Living Translation)
Every time I read this verse, I feel seen… terribly. The scenario usually goes a little something like this –
God: “Daughter, even fools know when to shut up.”
Me: “But, God, for real?! Seriously?! Do you hear this foolishness?”
God: “Ma’am.” *insert heavenly side-eye*
Me: “But, they act like I don’t know what I’m talking about… and I have degrees and professional experience in this stuff! Who do they think they’re talking to?”
God: “And what do you think it will accomplish? They aren’t listening.”
Me: “I know, I know… it’s not worth it…”
God: “Nope. Keep your mouth shut and keep it movin’.”
Family, I know it’s tempting to tell them off and flex your intellectual muscles or share your life experience to help them taste humility. It’s tempting to be petty and shut the conversation down, but it’s simply not worth it. The truth is – and hear me out – sometimes, it’s better just letting them think you don’t know anything.
I saw that face.
I know that face.
I make it too.
But when you do the math, your breath and your peace are too valuable for some conversations. I’ve had to calculate the probability of understanding on many occasions and be at peace with the outcome. The truth is that some people like to swirl in a caldron of complaints and ear-tickling information. They only drink what they pour. They never seek to comprehensively understand. Never. Let them tell it, the apocalypse is going to happen in a few minutes because a law doesn’t fit their preferences. In their world, discriminatory practices are figments of political imagination. And that can make you angry enough to explode… especially when you’re unheard or dismissed. The honest response that tap-dances in my spirit is “I teach social sciences and you’re trying to school me by using incorrect or insanely biased data? You’re seriously trying to tell me a historical event didn’t take place? Can you even tell me how a bill becomes a law? You don’t get to talk to me about ANYTHING relating to immigration, civil rights infringement, gun control, or any other soundbite you choose to cook on the stove of your mind. Miss me with that.”
…aaaand that’s why the Holy Spirit has to oil up that bridle. *sigh* What good will that rant do? Why stir up a conversation with someone who has already decided that they will not listen? In communications class, we say the ultimate goal of communication is a shared understanding. Unfortunately, understanding can not be shared until both parties are willing to listen… willing to exchange compassion. If this cannot be detected, I highly encourage you to hold your tongue and your peace… then unleash your frustration elsewhere in a healthy way.
I leave you with this just in case you need it at the family table or in the conference room soon –
A man of knowledge restrains his words, and a man of understanding maintains a calm spirit.– Proverbs 17:27
Calm doesn’t mean there isn’t activity beneath the ocean’s surface. It means it has a boundary that isn’t remote controlled. I’m not asking you to mute yourself. I’m encouraging you to assess and act accordingly instead of jumping into every pool of dialogue. I’m asking you not to take the bait. I’m asking you to think of the long game instead of the short reward. I’m asking you to allow the Holy Spirit to be your Guide. It’s worth it; I’m living proof.
You got this and I got your back. *fist bump*
Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!