Silence Is Golden
by Pauline Hylton
“They had some really good sales in the mall!” I stated as my good friend Miriam and I exited through the automatic double-doors. My eyes desperately scanned the horizon as I tried to make small talk.
“Isn’t it beautiful outside today?”
“You forgot where your car is again, didn’t you?” Miriam asked.
“Yes,” I admitted shamefully.
“It’s the first week in February, and already you’ve blown the ONLY New Year’s resolution that you made.”
Unfortunately, she was correct. I thought I’d simplify my life in 2009, and instead of making four or five resolutions and only keeping one or two (or none) of them, I would only make one. The ONLY New Year’s resolution I made for 2009 was to remember where I parked my car.
I failed miserably. However, since my son’s graduation from high school in June, I’ve changed vehicles with him and gone from a very short, sporty, metallic-tan sedan to a taller, patriotic-blue minivan. It makes it much easier to spot among all of the other short, sporty, metallic-tan cars. I’m relieved.
But that brings me to this year, and I know what my ONLY New Year’s resolution will be… silence. Not complete, that would be rude. Just more of it.
Some of you may have read a couple of my articles previously published in MTL about “slowing down” (see sidebar). I’m happy to say that I’ve done that, and it’s been wonderful. I’ve been worshiping, studying and listening more to God; and that is what I sense Him saying to me for 2010. He wants me to listen even more by practicing silence.
As I’ve contemplated why the Lord would want me to be quiet more, besides the obvious reason of noise pollution, four reasons come to mind.
The first reason has to do with my husband, Tom. When we go places together, I am the one doing most of the talking—asking questions, making jokes, voicing my opinion. It comes naturally for me, not so for Tom. He is a worker, not a talker. He dropped out of school in the tenth grade and started supporting himself. He lived alone in a rented house when he was 16 and didn’t depend on anyone but himself.
I grew up as an Officer’s Brat (OB, for short) in The Salvation Army. My parents were in charge of a corps, or church, plus there was usually a transient lodge and Salvation Army store that was also their responsibility. After we got settled into one location and put down roots, we’d receive “marching orders.” This occurred about every three years. A letter would arrive, telling us that we had three weeks to pack. A week or two after that, we’d receive another official letter informing us of our new appointment. We’d throw our stuff in the car, say our goodbyes and move on. Over the years, I attended several schools in many states, but I got used to it. In fact, I even liked it. Because of this, I could make conversation with a tree.
Thus the “Pauline-talks-to-anyone-about-anything-and-Tom-listens” scenario.
The Proverbs 31 woman, the one we all love to hate, knew how to do it all. And I admit, I’m a Proverbs 31 “Wanna Be.” As I’ve read over that chapter this last year, once a month, verse 23 stood out. I’ve marked it in my Bible. It states: “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.” Back in Bible times, this was where the guys hung out. It’s where the NFL Network was playing. They’d discuss local affairs and make judgments in the community.
That verse always convicted me. I think if my husband were “sitting at the gates” and a conversation about me came up, it wouldn’t involve my excellent sewing skills, that’s for sure. I think it would go something like this:
“Tom’s wife, Pauline, sure talks a lot.”
Pause while they watch the instant replays.
“She sure does.”
I don’t want that for my husband. I want him to be known. He’s a great husband and my best friend; and I am his help-meet. So being silent in 2010, both in groups and at home, will be a good thing for him and a godly thing for me.
The second reason I think God wants me to be silent is to let the Holy Spirit work. Often, I am so busy telling my children or husband or friend what I think they should be doing or not doing, that the Spirit is saying, “I was just going to say that but you didn’t give me time. Plus I was going to say it differently, and a whole lot better.” (Mind you, I’m not quoting the Holy Spirit; but I imagine if He used words, they might be something like that.)
So for 2010, I don’t want to voice my opinion with my husband, my children or my friends. Unless they ask. I need to trust the Lord, that “He Who began a good work in them, will complete it.” I need to stop trying to do His work. I’m sure my friends and family will be grateful, and the Holy Spirit will get the glory.
The third reason I want to be quiet is because of Proverbs 10:19, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” I’ve found that to be true in my life. When I spend too much time in idle chatter—not the things of the Lord, not in fellowship, but unguarded moments—it often leads to sins like complaining and gossiping. Like Paul says in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” I want to practice this Scripture. I want my words to have meaning like what is said about the Proverbs 31 woman in verse 26, “She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her lips.” Well-thought-out, kind words. What a thought!
The fourth reason that I should be silent is to better hear the great “I Am” speaking to me.
For several months, each morning when I’d have my quiet time, I would read over Galatians 5: 22-26. This Scripture lists the fruit of the Sprit. I pray for one of those fruit, daily. But there’s one verse I keep coming back to—verse 25. I like how the NIV phrases it: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
When I meditate on that verse, I think of how fast my mom walked when I was a little girl. I’d watch her, listen to her, and try to keep up with her and hold her hand. That’s the way I want to be with the Spirit—watching, listening, following His lead, and holding His hand. I can’t do that if I’m talking all the time.
I’d appreciate it if you would pray that for me in 2010. Also, it would be helpful if I could find my car.
Pauline Hylton is a freelance writer from Largo, FL, who specializes in humor or whatever else you’ll publish. She loves dark chocolate, her family and the Lord (but not necessarily in that order). For more of Pauline’s writings, visit www.PaulineHylton.com.