Written words often seem to be the greatest asset.
Even when I can’t necessarily say what I’m thinking, I still have written words. I can blog them, email them, text them, scribble them down and look at them. Writing means I can make a thought sound exactly like I wanted it to sound, and give my thoughts out whenever I want. Writing means that I have a voice and basically even a voice of my own choosing and creation.
Writing also means I start facing a temptation to prove myself to people. It means a temptation to have the last word and to hear myself more clearly than I hear other people. It means I have the opportunity to talk at people, rather than with them.
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Last year I had a quote tacked up on my bulletin board that read, “Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence.”
So catchy and smart sounding. And I relish quiet.
But here lately, I have begun to disapprove my own quote choice. I disapprove it for those time when there is something to say but it’s uncomfortable to do it. I disapprove that idea for those times when we could find connection with a friend or stranger, but want to hold back for fear stumbling around with our words. I disapprove the sentiment for the sheer fact that God created words, and He created them to be beautiful, powerful, and used.
In a world filled with noise, it is surprising how many words are more beautiful than silence. I’m not talking about written words, but the real out-loud, spoken words. Friendly words. Thoughtful questions. Words of apology. Encouragement and affirmation. Truth. Reminders. Greetings. Jokes. Questions.
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Speaking our words leaves us vulnerable because we cannot always say everything correctly. We put ourselves out to the other person not knowing how they will respond, and there is no space between us for hiding to happen.
Lately, I find myself putting aside my own affection for written words to make space for spoken words. This is where we can develop friendships, read people’s inaudible emotion, and grow together. People surprise us with their spoken words when we give them the time and space to be themselves. That surprise is beneficial because it can signify that the space between who we have imagined them to be and who they truly are is pushed away.
So often, there is a temptation to only talk if we are confident, ready, and certain of sounding intelligent. What good things does this hold us back from? From praying together, perhaps; from asking thoughtful questions, or breaking the silence that needs to be broken. Written words are good but they so often lack the ability to do all these things.
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It’s so nice to be able to talk, to use the vulnerability of conversation as an opportunity to let go of fear, distance, and cover-ups. Being thoughtful and conscientious of our words often does not mean silence. It means words spoken in love, questions that allow another person to speak to us, and attentive listening.