Monday, March 24, 2014

Just Noise, or the Need of the Moment?

Lenten Lessons.

#1.  I simply just talk too much.  No, I'm not extroverted, but when I'm around people, I seem to need to filll the empty spaces with noise.  I'm not comfortable with awkward silences.  However, as I've been reflecting back over my days (and in connection with Scriptures, which are combined with my quiet times), this truth has become more uncomfortable than those gaps, where there is a lack of conversation...  Then this verse showed up:

Let no unwholesome (rotten) word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification (the act of building up, assisting in the advancement of the divine life) according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace (that which results in joy, peace, and liberty) to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29

The need of the moment.  That phrase was italicized in my NASV Bible.  It simply took my breath away for a moment, and I think my heart stopped beating.  How many times do I not notice the need of the moment, because I'm talking?  Or, how many times am I in such a hurry that I am totally, ignorantly, unaware of the need of the momentProbably 99% of the time.  I’ll generously give myself an entire percent of credit.  I doubt I’ve earned that. 

In order to identify the need of the moment, I have to slow down.  I need to develop some other skills, too.  Here’s the list I’ve created:
I need to stop talking... I need to learn to listen.  I better stop worrying about me, and the awkwardness.  I need to quit thinking about what’s on my to-do list.  I better quit focusing on my own issues; and begin to be others-oriented.  In order to listen, I have to hear, read between the lines, ask questions, and not worry so much about what I am going to say next.  That’s probably my biggest barrier in listening.  Because I see myself as a poor communicator, I am continually phrasing my next comment.  I get in such a hurry to tell my story, that I’m not paying attention to their story. 

I’ve decided that listening is a gift of grace in itself.  Maybe I don’t have anything clever or wise with which to respond, but I have a good gift to offer: a listening ear.  Sometimes encouragement simply comes in the form of really engaging with someone: leaning forward, developing eye contact, and being fully present in the few moments I have with them.  Sometimes, the greatest gift I can offer is that when my friends walk away, they believe they have been heard.  Heard and believed.  This is crucial…I know from experience.  We all want to be heard.  We all want to be known.  We all want to be believed

So, I want to ask more questions than attempt to provide pat answers (which are probably just cliché anyway), or fill empty spaces with a clutter of words.  I want to develop good listening habits.  I don’t want to put a time constraint on my conversations, as I’m able (obviously, sometimes appointments create that for me).  This is a gift I can always afford: the gift of grace, for the need of the moment!

So, a challenge for me is to talk less, ask good questions, listen more.  Just as I'm working on reducing the clutter of my home, it's time to spring clean my mouth!  

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