I’m an extrovert, so I’m rarely short on words. But this week God is asking me to hold my tongue, and I have to say it’s the hardest thing for me to do. Not just a little hard – like it’s hard to drink my full eight glasses of water each day – but hard like everything within me is roaring inside to speak. I want to explain myself, make myself be understood, justify my position, and give my two cents about my side of the story. Instead, I know I just have to walk away and be silent. This means living with being misunderstood and mistaken. It means trusting God instead of my ability to explain and fix.
Let me fill you in: This week I decided to take a risk in a friendship in my life. I chose to have one of those, “Can I share my experience of you recently?” conversations with a dear friend. I stayed up late the night before, praying and journaling about exactly what it was I wanted to say. Having the conversation was a risk, and I wasn’t looking forward to it, but there have been a few times when others have taken this risk with me, so I know how important it can be. A few times in my life this kind of conversation has been the most loving gift I could have been offered. Direct feedback from someone who knows you and loves you (very key – not talking about angry critics here) is an exceptionally rare and precious gift.
But, my conversation with my friend did not go so well. For whatever reason, my friend could not receive my feedback (and I’ve been there before too.) She deflected, minimized, sabotaged, and turned dramatic, involving another person to “her side of the story” almost immediately.
So here lies my fork in the road. I could try again, explain my perspective, and attempt to make myself understood, or I could turn on her, go toxic, and get caustic. Either way, it would mean more talking. And for the first time in a long time, silence seems like the only good and right option. So much of what I do day-to-day depends on words, articulation and communication. Yet sometimes wisdom and character lie not in what we say but in what we don’t say. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just get quiet and walk away. Sometimes we need to be like David in the Bible who chose not to retaliate when he was being unjustly attacked. When Saul threw arrows at David, he did not break out his bow, or rally his troupes, or fight back. Instead he just fled, alone and silent.
I know I have to be quiet now. I just know that being silent is the hardest thing to do. It’s requiring me to trust God with the outcome of it all, and I’d so much rather try to control it on my own.