By Jennifer Miller
Have you ever been in a situation in which you had to force yourself to hold your tongue? Were you fighting every instinct not to let loose and let that person or persons have it? Believe me I am sure that you were tempted to do so. A rash stream of words never really does any good. The bible even supports this statement when it says that one who holds their tongue is prudent. Yet so many of us appear to lack this trait and we are suffering because of it. It is a matter of perspective.
Some people see holding one’s tongue as a weakness. They conclude that people do so because they are afraid of interfering or they are afraid of confrontation. That is not necessarily true. I feel they are wise when they do so. Please allow me to expound on this.
Many times, when an issue or a comment “sets us off” our first instinct is to react by making our own comment or a rash statement to defend our position or ourselves. It is how we comment that I am addressing here today. We act on that instinct and fail to listen to what was said. However, I emphatically suggest that we need to listen. By listening, we can process the information and file it away and then move on. It is wise to do so. We shouldn’t be so quick to jump in and start a quarrel, but rather we should find ways to avoid an unnecessary quarrel. Just because battle lines can be drawn doesn’t mean that we must fight a battle every time. We need to discern what is worth fighting for and what is not.
Some people like to bait others and start an argument. Some like to argue for the fun of it and do not need much or any provocation to do so. They test you to see how you react and what you will say. Sometimes they know you and your defenses so well they start a quarrel to get your attention. We are all susceptible to this tactic and some buy into it hook, line and sinker, while others digest the information and do not give the initiator a response. They find no need to quarrel over trivial matters or to walk into enemy territory.
When you walk in a minefield the objective is to avoid stepping on a mine trap for it will explode. You carefully move about and get out of that situation as quickly as you can preferably with minimal or no damage. That is an art and that is how we are to maneuver throughout life. Some will argue in theory this sounds great, but, I do not think it will stand up. Or will it?
Like anything one wants to master, it takes time in order to accomplish this. Very few (if any) would start off mastering this skill, but over time many can achieve this. We must be patient, determined to meet our goal and persevere. Wisdom and knowledge are offered to all but attained by only a few. It can be acquired, but you must work for it. You need to realize that we all must work together in harmony. We need to be able to listen to one another without hindrance of any sort. This is not a time to think of come backs or quick retorts, but rather a time for hearing what the other party is saying. Only upon fully hearing what was said can we discern how to react or how not to react.
Usually someone who is rash never hears what the other person is saying. They only get bits and pieces and respond from there. Or they take sound bites of a conversation to fuel a fire because they want to start a quarrel. They are not content with just starting a conversation, for if they were, they would listen to one another and offer sound advice not words that could prompt an upcoming war.
What this all boils down to is whether you want to be there as a friend or advisor and offer advice if needed, or whether you want to hear your own voice and opinion and make it known to others whether they want to hear it or not. What is the greater good that you are seeking? Do you want to get to the bottom of things by any means necessary or do you honestly seek resolution to the issue at hand? How we respond to these questions determines who we are and how we seek to resolve issues. Are we courteous or do we do a disservice to others (as well as ourselves) to get our point across?
When I was little, I was so determined to speak my mind. Too determined. I did not look at the whole issue and I answered quickly because of that. I made some enemies that way and I shamed myself in the process. That was a tough lesson to learn. Now as an adult, I choose to respect others and hear what they have to say. I seek to listen first and speak later if necessary. I also seek to hold my tongue and to refrain from quarrels or arguments. I am not afraid to stand up for myself, nor am I afraid to speak my mind. However, I now weigh the cost involved and then make my decision. I seek to aid others, to reach out and help them, but I no longer seek selfish motives for expressing myself in ways that may do harm and break the lines of communication. I seek to respect others and reserve my opinion for times in which one asks for it. I am happier now and more hassle-free. In hindsight, in my past the price I paid for these bad decisions or rash actions was too costly and burdensome. I changed my attitude and now the price I pay is just right and no burden at all.
So, where do you stand on the issue? Take a moment or two to reflect and then decide if you want to be a part of the problem or if you would rather become a willing participant in the solution. Everyone wants to get up to speak and make their point known, but the wiser individual sits down and listens to what the other parties have to say and then speaks if necessary. Silence sometimes makes the more powerful statement. God bless.