I talk a lot. Sometimes I actually get tired of talking. I’ve gotten better over the years, and have learned what conviction is, although sometimes it’s a little too late. That’s the problem with us folks of many words. The more you speak the more opportunity you have to say things that you probably shouldn’t have.
I think the gift of talking, comes with the gift of listening. The first can be self-serving and empty with out the second. Believe it our not, even God pointed that out in His Word… (Pro 10:19, 12:18, 13:3 & James 1:19, Matt 12:26-37 (ouch). If you can listen, you can speak life or death, and even be quiet when necessary. You can help people, or hurt them. I can testify to this, from years of experience! That’s why I think the two gifts go together. God usually doesn’t give us something that we won’t have to work out, besides salvation.
A couple of months ago, at one of my son’s baseball games, I accidentally sat with the opposing teams parents. The lady sitting next to me was pretty sweet, and we chatted all though the double header. We cheered for each other’s boys, and congratulated each other for good plays. She’s a cheerleading coach and has a daughter and son, both in middle school. We shared lots of “mom” stories, and we really seemed to hit it off. One of the things I shared with her was the difficulty of raising a daughter and a son just a few years apart. I warned her about the “crushes” from her daughter’s friends, and I told her about the “modesty” rules we had to have in our home. My husband and I take modestly pretty seriously, and want our home to be a safe place, where my boys, and my husband, are not faced with “stumbling” in lust. I casually told my new friend, that we didn’t allow any of my daughter’s friends to hang out in short shorts and tank tops, while lounging in our home. It was a challenge! Especially through middle and high school!
That topic was really just one of many my new friend and I shared, and honestly, I didn’t even really remember it. I don’t normally remember most of my conversations, until the middle of the night when conviction or Satan wakes me up.
We went back to play that team last week. I will tell you that my insecurities were large and in charge, as I saw her sitting down the line with her family and friends. I was expecting her to give me a half wave, and look away, as I was sure I probably offended her in some way or talked too much at our last encounter. I know, I know… Lame.
Much to my surprise, she waved and even moved her chair down and sat with me. As I sat there, thinking what an idiot I was, she excitedly told me that she had thought about me, and something I had said stuck with her, and has made a difference in her life! What? Really? Excuse me, but being the Mom of 3 adults, leaves me in a mostly constant state of frustration. I don’t know if I’ve ever had that statement said to me before…(I’m sure my mom can relate)
I looked at her, with obvious shock, and said, “what?” She then excitedly told me that she had never thought about her son and daughter and the entire hormone thing together. As a cheer coach, she had never even thought about those short shorts and tanks, and it hadn’t ever occurred to her that the way the girls dressed, just might be a stumbling block for hormone raging boys. She had to order uniforms for her team, and she didn’t order the short shorts! She was even communicating with Nike about trying to find more athletic attire for her girls. She told me that those girls are athletes, and should look more like that as well! She was even doing away with the hair bows. She was on fire and focused on the challenge to modest up those uniforms, as well as staying aware of keeping her home a safe place.
Wow. I was amazed. First, that any of my babblings would be remembered, but then more importantly, I marveled at this women and how God was working in her life. Her determination to make a difference was inspiring. To be even more transparent, I was actually envious of her conviction that obviously surpassed mine.
It made me think about talking and listening. I did listen to her, and she apparently listened to me. How responsible should we be about what comes out of our mouths? How thin is the line from hurt to help, and where does that responsibility lie? With the speaker or the listener? God used something, as he usually does if we are really listening to things he wants us to hear. She is using her voice and her influence to make a difference, and I believe she will. I can only pray to do the same.
Are you a talker or a listener, or have you mastered the balance?