The Courage to Be Quiet

At the small group Bible study that Bryan and I attend, we are reading through the Book of James.

Tonight was the first night I was able to attend, and even though I don't know everyone there, you know how you just get  a feeling when something starts about whether or not it's going to be good?  I think it is.

We talked about a number of wonderfully thought-provoking, introspective items, but when my friend was finishing our prayers for the night, she, along with good ol' Jimmy, got me thinking about having the courage to be quiet.

James 1:19-20 reads, 'You must understand this, my beloved:  let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness.'

Let's be honest.  You've read my posts.  At the very least, you can tell that I'm not slow to speak or slow to anger.  Those stick out for me like VERY large and sore thumbs that have probably been hit by a number of things and continued to swell because I keep learning the same lessons over and over...but I digress...

The part of the verse that created some great discussion was the "quick to listen" part.  The part I don't think about.  And the reason I don't think about it is probably because I'm NOT quick to listen.  Am I listening?  I think I'm a good listener, but am I really just planning my next move, or sneaking peeks at my email or texting under the table?  Am I hearing what I want to hear or what I think the person means, or am I listening to the words, each one separate and trying to determine their meaning for that time and in that moment?

When my friend prayed, she asked for the "courage to be quiet."  Wow.  When I think of the identified heroes of the world, we see the speeches they made and the causes they stood for.  But, do we notice the times when they didn't speak?  When the action of quiet took more courage than speaking out?

There's a wonderful scene in the movie, Little Women, where Amy has been struck by her teacher at school, and her sister, Jo, is completely outraged and wants to strike out violently against the man.  Her mother, Marmee, however, chooses to write him a strongly-worded letter, which makes Jo practically crazy because she feels it's such an under-reaction.  She confides in her sister Beth later on that she wishes she could be like her father and go to war and fight against the injustices of the world.  And, wise Beth responds that Marmee is fighting, too, in her own way.

What a beautiful thought.  How much more courage does it take for us to be quiet?  How much strength not to fight, but to listen and seek first to understand?  And, maybe, even after hearing everything that's going on and listening quickly, to remain silent.  Perhaps our voices don't need to be heard all of the time...

This is what I ask for this week.  In addition to needing much honing in the areas of being slow to anger and slow to speak, I ask for God to help me to be quick to listen.  I ask, when life's road jarrs me from my bubble of comfort and I become offended or hurt or scared or angry and my inner fire is roaring to life, that I have the courage to be quiet.

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