Thursday, October 30, 2014

Be Quiet and Know...

I have taken a pretty long hiatus from blogging, with the exception of a few shared thoughts here and there. It started off unintentionally. I was busy; I was distracted; and then, strangely, I just didn't have much to say. As most of you know, that's usually not a problem for me. I'm never at a loss for words. I even talk when I'm nervous (which, often, leads to just babbling). Too much quiet makes me uncomfortable, so sometimes I have to say something. So why didn't I have much to say? Because for the few times in my life, I was busy trying to listen.

I've been going through a Bible Study at church this fall which is just fantastic. I love the women who lead it. I love the women who attend. I love all the things that God has put on my heart since starting it. I even love the sense of conviction that reduces me to tears sometimes because I know that God is speaking to me.

It's not like there's a big, booming voice that shakes the room saying "I'M LOOKING AT YOU, KATHRYN!" There is just this realization, this truth, that hits me like a ton of bricks and I KNOW that I NEEDED to hear what was said.

For those of you who are wondering, the material for this women's study is Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa Terkeurst. I strongly recommend it. I have never met Lysa, she is not paying me to endorse her book, she doesn't know I exist, but after reading this book and going through this study, I feel like she knows me. She is very open and transparent about her struggles and I share so many of them. Every chapter or so she would describe something that she has or has previously had problems with and my reaction has always been, "RIGHT?!" Because I KNOW. I've been there. I AM there. Girlfriend hits close to home...HARD.

Anyway, one of the things she talks about in the book is being a woman of intentional words, meaning that everything I say should have a purpose. It is about more than just not gossiping, although, that is a factor. It's about protecting our mouths. She gives several verses that relate to this idea and I would like to share them, and a few more, to help make my point.

I have always thought of Ephesians 4:29 when I think about what I say, though, we all know that I'm not always so great at adhering to it. It says, "No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear."

I have used curse words, sure. I admit that. I still have to fight them off every time they want to spill forth from my mouth in either anger or hurt. But, I always focused only on that half of the verse. I was so focused on the importance of not using profane language, that I sort of skipped over the part about only saying what is good for edifying someone in need. That doesn't mean that I can't hold someone accountable. What it means is that I have to give my criticisms in a constructive way and with love. I shouldn't tear people down. My mean streak, decorated with wit and sarcasm, needs to be put it its place, which is out of my heart.

I also recently was struck by Job 18:2, "How long until you stop talking? Show some sense and then we can talk." This is in reference to Job's, well, pity party. He is upset because many disasters and tragedies have befallen him, so he is lamenting, and lamenting, and lamenting, and lamenting. Finally his friends call him on it. It isn't that he didn't have a right to grieve, but we cannot live in grief. We cannot wallow.

Not only do I sometimes wallow, but I also tend to babble when I'm nervous. So this verse speaks to me. It shows me that I need to stop and quietly reflect sometimes. I need to shut up and listen for what God has to say about my situation. He has a plan. He always does, but if I can't hear Him because I'm too busy droning on, I'll miss out.

The second half of Matthew 12:34 says, "...For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart." So when I tear people down, when I'm mean, crass, or profane, I'm putting my inner darkness on display for the whole world to see. I'm showing that I'm not letting God rule my heart, because if He had control, I wouldn't say such things because I wouldn't feel them. I'm showing my failure in the battle to rid me of myself, maybe that day, maybe that week, or longer.

Or to people who don't know God, but know me, I'm scaring them away from Him. If I'm cruel and mean in my speech, what does that say about the God of my heart? If I babble nonsense, stick my foot in my mouth, use profane language, I'm giving people the wrong impression about who God is. Because they may not know that it isn't God who is saying those things, but the very human, very broken, very defensive and easily offended me.

So what does ALL this have to do with my blogging absence? I'm not just babbling here, really. It's related. I've spent the last several weeks trying to be more intentional about what I say. I'm trying to guard my heart by conquering my tongue. It isn't easy and I don't always succeed, but in those moments or days when I am successful (because I let God be in control of my heart AND my mouth) I feel....better. It's like a weight is lifted off of my chest at the end of the day. I don't lie awake thinking of all the things I said that I can't take back. It's freeing.

Psalm 19:14 says, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer." I've been trying to live that out. It has been my cry, my plea.

And my silence? My lack of anything to say at all? It isn't because my heart is empty. Within the last week, I was struck by something that has made me want to be quiet a little more often, which is VERY hard for me.

My son's nursery has Bible verses on the wall in several places. They aren't for Him, he is far from being old enough to read. Although, a few are in his honor and for him to see each day as he grows up and learns to read. Most of them, though, are for me and my husband. There is one that hangs over his crib. Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God..."

My son turns a year old next week and we put that on the wall before he was born, meaning that verse has been on the wall for a year, or a little longer. I have seen it many times a day, EVERY DAY for a year. I have stared at it in the middle of the night. I have looked up at it from the rocking chair at nap time. I have glanced at it before and after diaper changes. It's been there. THE WHOLE TIME. But this week, A YEAR LATER, God used it to speak to me.

I chose the verse originally because sometimes it helps me remain calm when I'm faced with too much...anything. It reminds me that God is there and He is in control. He's got this. Calm down. It's going to be okay.

This week, though, the verse has said something else to me. It's as if I could read it as BE QUIET and know...

It's like God said directly to my heart, "Stop talking, turn off the music, close the 2,568 tabs your brain has open, and just listen. You might just hear Me."

So I did. I got quiet. And It. Was. Wonderful.

I heard Him. It affected me. I was more joyful in my daily tasks. I was happier. I was upbeat. And He even prodded me a little when it was time to stop being quiet and share my thoughts with my husband, with my Bible Study class, and with my blog.

Two women in my study group came up to me last night and hugged me and told me how blessed they felt by what I share in class. They praised me for my wisdom, especially at my age (they are both my parent's age or older) as well as my honesty and transparency. By the end of the conversation we were all in tears. They commended me and I was so humbled for it. Let me say that again, 'cause y'all KNOW I can be quite prideful. They COMMENDED ME and I WAS HUMBLED. It was beautiful. Truly.

And somewhere in my head and in my heart, I felt that now it was time to break the silence and share. Because now, I had something to say. More than that. I had something WORTH SAYING. And that's the real reason I haven't been blogging, I realize now. I didn't have anything really worth saying.

Maybe now that I've broken through the block I had, I can finally right a decent post about my excitement and weekly anxiety about MSU Football and it's current #1 ranking. That's for another post, though. Now, I think I will close the computer, put my phone on vibrate, and enjoy the quiet while I work on some of my daily tasks. I'm not uncomfortable in the silence now, at least not all the time. I learning to appreciate it. And maybe, just maybe, I'll hear God along the way.