Chatterbox. It’s an affectionate and fair nickname I have been given. I enjoy talking. I will talk to anyone, anywhere, about anything. I have never met a stranger. Meaningful conversations, learning about other people and discussing various topics is my love language.
Although it is a wonderful quality, and dare I even say, an enviable quality, is poses a rather difficult dilemma for me (and for anyone like me, I imagine)- when do I stop talking and just listen?
Recently I was at a conference hosted by my company. Normally, I would be talking everyone’s ear off and working the room. However, this year, I lost my voice. This was very disappointing for me. There were so many conversations still to be had, but they weren’t going to happen. I fought it, trying to yell just to get a normal voice level, but to no avail. Finally, sitting at the banquet dinner table that night, I had to let it go and accept it.
As I sat at dinner listening to the seven other people around me engage in conversation, I realized something. I miss so much by not stopping and listening. This was a huge life lesson for me. It’s like being forced to slow down by an injury when you are a person always on the go. My mouth was always on the go and my ears were far behind. Now, I had to slow down and readjust. I learned so much by doing that. The amazing things you learn by just stopping and intentionally listening. This was a lesson I have taken into my prayer life too. I asked myself, ‘If I am always talking to God, how will I ever hear Him?’ I I needed to learn to stop and listen. We all need to stop and listen.
Madeline L’Engle says in her book, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art:
“We need the power of words, yes; the words are the path to contemplation; but the deepest communion with God is beyond words, on the other side of silence.”
On the other side of silence . . . beyond words is where you will find me from now on. Taking time to intentionally listen to others, and especially stopping and listening to God.
Going forward, I will try to tame my tongue and follow the words of James – be quick to hear and slow to speak (1:19), walking in silence to experience the deepest communion with God and with His creation.