Thanksgiving was just a few weeks ago. Our church choirs first performance of the new season after summer break. But just for fun, let’s add the orchestra, the kids choir, the youth worship team, the adult worship team, and the worship band. That resulted in well over 100 people on stage, not counting tech support which includes camera operators, sound booth techs, stage director, stage manager, video director, and last but not least stage setup and take down team. It sounds chaotic, but it was actually quite well ordered. Everyone knew their job and did it well.
But the noise! Cramming all those people into the rehearsal room before each service created a cacophony of sound. My social anxiety wanted me to run for a quiet corner. But I noticed something.
So many people, so much to say. Yet I heard spaces in the noise. For all the words being said in that room, there were silences as well. Things unsaid that were perhaps better expressed through a glance. A hug. An arm of comfort or understanding across a burdened shoulder. Two heads bowed together, a deep breath, and then a walk together to the throne of God.
I read just yesterday in Proverbs that life and death are in the power of the tongue. I agree. And when I remember to practice this, it changes how I speak. But I wonder about the empty spaces between. The things left unsaid for better or for worse. Could it be that the thing left unsaid sometimes turns out to be the loudest thing in the room?
My daughter leaves the house calling out to me “Bye Mom! Love you!” I am ashamed to admit that I have had to be reminded to reply in kind. Why? I was busy. I was distracted. I was… doing absolutely nothing that couldn’t be interrupted to say “Love you too! Have a great day!”
What does the thing unsaid tell her about me? Or more importantly, about herself and how I see her. IF I see her.
This is behaviour I had to learn. My home of origin did not operate this way. To be fair, there was no expectation of this. We were a big busy family. Things to do, places to be, chores to finish, supper to make, laundry to do, a bed to get to so we could do it all over again tomorrow. “Get what you want and go to bed!” was heard nightly. It’s one of the favourite phrases in my family’s collective memory – it always brings a laugh!
Think ‘Yours, Mine, And Ours’ – The movie with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Except we were not a blended family. We lived on a farm instead of in a large victorian style home, and no one had long fancy fingernails. There was no Hollywood budget for such luxuries in our house!
On the flip side, throughout my life I have said so much that was better left unsaid. I had to learn that my daughter wasn’t listening to anything I said because I was saying too much. I was spending all my time talking when she just needed me to listen. It took a lot of years for me to learn to never pass up a good opportunity to shut up. Still working on that. (Insert embarrassed face emoticon here.)
So back to the Good Book. So many words. Good words. True words. Life-giving words – depending on how I use them. There’s the rub. The power of life and death truly is in my tongue. With one word I can build someone up, or cut them to ribbons. And when I don’t speak, what does my silence say? And do I have the courage to actually examine myself closely enough to answer that question about myself?
I love sharing scripture that is meaningful to me. Why?
No, really – why??
What is my intention? Do I truly want to build into another life? Or am I using Scripture as a hammer over their head? I may be sharing a Biblical truth, but is my true purpose to prove to them that I am right and they are wrong?
What if instead of using Gods words to prove that I am right and you are wrong, I use my life to prove that Gods words are right, and they are still relevant today?
Flip the script. It’s not about me. It’s not about right-fighting. It’s about intentional listening and intentional speech to create intentional good. If I practice this in my communication, what kind of change can happen in me? Because after all, I don’t believe I am here to change anyone else.
I am here to BE CHANGE.
Lots of questions to ponder. If you have something to say, I’d love a chance to practice intentional listening.