let your words be few

A few years ago, after a particularly tumultuous time in my personal life, I wrote a journal entry about what I hoped for my future. I reread this for the first time in almost exactly four years last week and, after I cried for that broken girl I used to be, I thought about how far I’ve come and how much I still have to learn. I dreamed about peace, love, and adventure. Some of what I hoped for has come into my life. I never could have imagined then where I would be now. Something I wrote that I’m confident will be a life-long effort is this:

My ears will be open. My mouth will be closed.

If there is one thing I know about life, and being 23 means there is much more that I don’t know than I do, but one thing I am confident in is that fewer words are almost always better than more. Don’t believe me? Check it out:

Let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

The more words you speak, the less they mean. So, why overdo it?
Ecclesiastes 6:11

I love Ecclesiastes. I tend to get in my head about historiography and doctrine and words that end in -ism when I read most of the Bible, but Ecclesiastes is just simple, rich, practical truth. I appreciate that. It’s a bit of a downer, but man, I can sink my teeth into some Ecclesiastes. These two verses are on a sheet of paper I keep in my bedroom titled, “Instruction for Daryn.” It’s a list of verses, all from Ecclesiastes, that keep me in line as long as I stick to them. I love those two about keeping my mouth shut. In a world where “words, words, words” are everywhere all the time, and everyone is entitled to an opinion, and the news and talk radio are accessible 24/7, a little silence goes a long way.

I want to learn. I hope to always be teachable. I hope I never think I have finally arrived, and have more answers than questions. I hope I can keep my mouth shut long enough to listen to a little silence. I pray to always be a trustworthy confidante. I pray for the courage and wisdom to keep it quiet more often than not. One of my mentors at work said this, “You ought not ever talk more than the oldest person in the room.” I love that.

Give it a try. Listen more than you speak. You’ll learn more and gossip less. You’ll think harder. You’ll experience life and the people around you more deeply. And then, maybe, you’ll really have something to talk about.

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