The Strength of Silence

Sometimes the best thing to do is shut up. Not as a response to other people’s verbiage, but as a choice to direct the “conversation”. There’s a kind of strength that comes from choosing not to speak, from not giving others more fodder to chew on, from not contributing to the noise of a cacophonic conversation, or of a gaggle of gossip, or speculations or dreamed up verbalized pretensions. From not playing the game that everybody wants you to play. (There’s also a season when you should definitely speak out. I’m not referring to that season here.)

You choose not to play your cards. You fold. You pass. You move on. “Move along, nothing to see here…” (While others caught red handed are saying, “Smile and wave boys, just smile and wave…”) All the while, people are wondering what you’re up to. Part of it is being wise as serpents and peaceful as doves.

I have one of those resting faces that doesn’t express a lot of emotion. I’m guilty of not smiling much. It’s not that I’m not happy, it’s just that I’m so inwardly focused, that I’m not aware of my “face to the world.” I had a pastor who was similar, he has a face of stone, and he informed the congregation that he was bubbling over with joy. I get it, I’m the same way. I must say, however, the saying, “Smile! It makes people think you’re up to something!” thoroughly applies to me. That silence and sinister smirk…

As a result, I can be a part of a conversation and not say a word. At least, I am aware that I’m a part of a conversation. Others involved are at a loss as to why I’m not “contributing.” I learned long ago to not say much, because it keeps me out of trouble. I’m amazed that others who have become intimately acquainted with trouble haven’t learned that little nugget yet. The times when I do open my mouth and something inappropriate falls out, well, they have certainly reinforced my belief in the virtue of silence.

One of my biggest pet peeves are folks who enjoy the sound of their own voice. Let’s face it – you’re choosing to read this right now. If you don’t like what you’re reading, you can easily close the tab. There’s a handful of folks at work who run their mouths incessantly. The moment they speak – it’s nails across a chalkboard. I leave the area as quickly as possible as decorum allows. I can speak to 95% of my fellow workers and describe this scenario, and I assure you, they could name the guilty. Here’s the rub….the guilty? They have absolutely no credibility whatsoever. Even if they are speaking truth or fact, they come across as untrustworthy. All because they TALK TOO MUCH! And when two or more of these folks are in the same conversation? Heaven help us…

I have extraverted friends who can talk, and I’m not fazed by their verbiage. Because they know how to come up for air. They can read the conversation underneath the conversation. They get it. They can intuitively gauge the vibes of what’s going on. They, indeed, know how and when to shut up. This is a skill. I’m noticing that more and more do not have it. I think it’s a symptom of low self esteem in some.

Having “said” all of that, when I am around someone I wholeheartedly trust, or someone I’m excited to be with (and I can discern they are excited to be with me,) or the conversation is directed to something I’m passionate about, I can be a blabbermouth, too. There are seasons, and there are relationships…it takes some discernment to determine when keep it shut, and when to let the bone box rattle.

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