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I Learn a Lesson in Not Talking

September 7, 2011

I talk a lot.  It’s not always intentional.  Sometimes thoughts go straight from my mind, down through my brain, and bursting out of my mouth before I can question their need to be shared.  I talk to myself, I sing in the car, I talk at my husband when he’s not even listening.  I am a constant running stream of conversation.  Be forewarned if you ever meet me.

For all the talking I do, I try very hard to be a good listener.  I try to be quiet.  I try not to interrupt.  I try to let other people have their say, have their moment to express their feelings, have their chance to be heard.  But today I did not try hard enough.  Today I failed at letting someone else into the conversation.  And it hurt someone I love.

The details of my refusing-to-shut-up moment are not all that important.  The bigger picture is that I should have been quiet when I was running my mouth.  I talked over my friend – on top of her, around her, beneath her.  I talked through her at times, and the sad thing is, I wasn’t even aware I was doing it.  That’s how bad my need-to-talk disease can be sometimes.  My friend felt like she had been silenced when she should have been heard.  And sadly, ever so sadly, it was I who had done the silencing.

How do I know she felt this way?  Was it after careful reflection on my behalf?  Was it after I sought her out for her opinion?  Was it out of my own ability to show self-control?  No, no, and no again.  I know I made my friend feel this way because she came up and told me.  In her wonderful, most gracious way, she pulled me aside and said that she also wanted a presence in the conversation we were having.  She also wanted to be heard, to be known, to be contributing.  I was immediately overcome with embarrassment and remorse after she told me this, and felt so incredibly guilty and selfish that I was almost beside myself in tears.  Had I really made her feel that way?  Had I pushed her out?  Had I really prized the sound of my own voice over someone so near and dear to my heart?

There are two amazing things that resulted from this experience with my friend.

One is that she came up and told me what the problem was.  She waited for a moment to pull me aside, spoke to me calmly, but also honestly.  My friend trusted our relationship enough that she knew she could share her real feelings with me.  She could hold me accountable and show her own vulnerability.

Two is that she trusted me to change.  She told me I had hurt her feelings, not out of malice or to punish my diarrhea-of-the-mouth, but to help me make a change.  She forgave me.  She knew that as soon as we talked, as soon as she shared her heart, there would be an instant and immediate desire in me to shift gears.  I would think of her and this conversation every time I opened my mouth out of turn.  I would think of her before jumping into a conversation where my voice was not necessary.  She knew that by sharing her feelings, she was giving me a chance to change.

These kinds of friendships are not that common.  They are rare.  But they are the strongest kinds of friendships that exist.  These kinds of friendships – the stuff made of honesty and vulnerability and trust and forgiveness and change – these are friendships rooted deep in the heart of God.  These are friendships where grace abounds and the Spirit leads and we can love each other in our weakness because God taught us how to do that first.  These are friendships un-threatened.  Their roots go down too deep.

I will remember that this day was a lesson in keeping my mouth shut.  It was a lesson in humility.  It was a lesson in realizing how I can sometimes, with unintentional selfishness, vie for the limelight at the expense of others.

But it was also a lesson in remarkable friendship.  In remarkable growth and trust and honesty.  It was a lesson in knowing why God gave us helpmates – drawing closer to each other brings us closer to Him.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jess permalink
    September 7, 2011 10:04 pm

    Love this. Beautiful.

  2. mom permalink
    September 7, 2011 10:29 pm

    another reason we need a sister wife! haha. every person who reads this honey will see themselves in your story b/c we all have been guilty of doing the same. the beauty in your story is exactly what you share….the depth of your relationship with this significant person. that is special. it does make us cringe when we feel like we overstep, but the great part is that yes, you will take her voice to every conversation to come

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