James 1:19 commands us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
Well if you are anything like me, being ‘slow to speak’ is by far the hardest commandment in the Bible.
It is not that difficult for me to not steal, commit adultery and honor my parents…but waiting to speak?? Some of us are much more prone to speaking quickly and thinking out loud. Call it what you want (being an extrovert, outgoing, energetic, talkative, loud, etc), but I am naturally inclined toward talking. I love talking. I can talk about anything with anyone. Talking about myself. Talking about others. Talking about food. Talking about weekend plans. Talking about the weather. Talking about family. Talking about (this is my boyfriend’s favorite :P) feelings. Talking about work. Talking with one person. Talking to a large crowd. Talking about how much I love talking.
As you may be able to tell…I have a hard time not talking. I started an entire blog just because I don’t get a chance to talk as much as I would like during the day. I am that person who can’t stand those people who never contribute in class, bible study, or a meeting. I do not understand how people can enjoy silence or can leave a posed question unanswered. It is actually infuriating to me when people don’t speak, and the longer silence continues, the angrier I get. (Guess I should work on being slow to anger as well, huh?)
However, recently I have tried to take this verse to heart and give others a chance to speak before I chime in. Honestly, it has been really difficult (because I have so many important, insightful, and valuable things to say), but I have learned a lot from this experience. I have learned that talking is how I stay engaged in a conversation, and by forcing myself to stay silent more, I am having to find other ways to do this. So I’ve been trying some revolutionary things like listening to what the other person is saying and trying to understand their point of view. Another important lesson this experience has taught me is that people who may have been less prone to contribute before, will speak up more often now. It just takes them a few more minutes to gather their thoughts and find the courage to speak up. I guess they just have a higher tolerance of awkward silence than me. And finally, consciously remaining quiet has showed me that in no way is that part of who I am. I was born to speak. I enjoy life more when I can talk with people. I was not meant to be quiet. And that is okay.
Obviously there is a time and place to listen and be still. I am still going to work on being ‘slow to speak’ and will continue to train myself to enjoy silence. Silence and quiet times are incredibly valuable. However, I am just not going to pretend like it is natural for me at all. And I will not be ashamed of who I am or the extroverted, outgoing, talkative, spunky, girl God made me to be!