I love to talk. I am pretty sure that once my parents got me to speak, I never stopped. One of my favorite childhood pictures is of me, around three years old, sitting in the backyard in a wagon, talking intently to the family dog, who looked very engrossed in what I was saying (I am a dog whisperer, remember). I am also raising a talker, so I do pay for my raising on so many levels. I never really got into trouble in school, with the exception of one weakness. You guessed it, talking. I was the child who would get to know anyone seated around me, I think I have always been trying to build relationships and help people work it out. But, listening is a skill I had to hone after choosing a career in education.
One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to talk and to listen every single day (there is hope for you parents with chatty, animated little girls! They can be teachers and guidance counselors when they grow up….or truly anything else they want to be).
As strengths are with many people, sometimes it can also be my weakness, though. Our mouths can get us into lots of trouble. I stalked a book online for several months, called “Keep It Shut- What to say, How to say it, and when to say nothing at all”. I finally bought and dug in the first night and that first chapter was so difficult to read, not because the words were too difficult, that message stung. Ouch ouch ouch. The author cut right to the quick, with “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits-Proverbs 18:21”. She went on to talk about a time in her junior high cafeteria where she could see her friend getting more attention from the junior high boys. Her jealousy overtook her, and she said something to make her friend look less attractive to them, and it backfired, costing her the friendship, and alienating her with her classmates.
How many times have we all been in similar circumstances and handled them the wrong way? Cole and I live a modest life. We live in less house than we can afford (thank you Dave Ramsey), I drive a car that is not brand new, and we still have plenty. But, do we have friends who have more materially than we do? Absolutely! As a single mama, I cannot yet provide things for him in a way that a two income family could (and he is perfectly fine, no worries). Could I allow jealousy to take over my tongue and say things about my sweet friends I would immediately regret?? Absolutely!! (My answer is that my child will probably be spending many evenings at their homes in junior high and high school, eating their food and living in their basements, it will all work out).
The author goes on to say that sometimes you just should not say anything. That is my struggle. I get so used to talking and filling up the space that I have had to train myself to take a breath (say a quick prayer for the words to say) and listen more than I speak. I see this same situation unfold every day on social media. People say the meanest things to strangers, friends and acquaintances. Not everything requires a comment. Disagree with your friend’s political views? Keep scrolling.
As parents we know that words can breathe life over your children, and the words you say to them in the morning will set the tone for their entire day. Being mindful of the words coming out of your mouth will only help you, and listening more than you speak opens up a whole new world too. This book is a life changer, but I am still not finished with it, because I have to read a little, then process a little (and apologize a little).