Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Saturday, October 25, 2014

31 Days of Courage: The Courage To Be Brief Or Even Shut Up Altogether

No one knows better than I do the tendency toward being a blowhard.

Lots of times people who don't know when to shut up are simply insecure, and desperately want to be understood.  They often feel so sure they will be misunderstood that they say the same thing a few different ways, until those listening are looking around furtively for the nearest exit.

My poor husband, I think I've seen that look in his eyes a thousand times...

It's entirely possible I was born talking.  I can't remember a time when I didn't feel a drive to communicate. All human beings have this to some degree.  We are relational at our core, made in the image of a relational God.  But some of us definitely get the expression thing twisted up a bit, and like the drinker with his drink and the foodie with her food, we become the wordy with our words.

I've been on both ends of this thing, so you'd think I'd have learned by now.

The times I've bitten my tongue have been far too few.  But when I have, when I let go of having to make sure everyone knows I'm not dumb, or realized if my opinion wasn't considered it would be ok: those moments have taken a bit of moxie.  It is far easier to open one's mouth than to keep it closed.

Of course there is an opposing problem to talking too much and listening too little: not speaking up when we ought.  I've addressed that problem in another blog, and the courage needed to speak up is easier to define than what I'm spelling out here.  Being brave enough to be quiet is far more subtle.  No one will know when you've measured your response and swallowed your pride.  That courage becomes an unseen virtue.  Those are the ones that really construct the metal of a man.  Those opportunities for holding back and listening up happen just about every day.  Those small victories of putting the other guy first make for a more civilized world.

I took on this 31 day writing challenge because I really do believe God was directing me to write for the sake of it, to practice this beloved craft, and to tell the truth.  The danger is always that I will say more than is necessary to communicate whatever I'm writing about.  I try hard not to do that.  I hear the voice of my NYU writing professor in my ears lo these 32 years later:

"Just tell the truth in the clearest way you can."

God bless Mark Dickerman.  When all us college students were trying to have a "style", he spoke those few words that changed the way I write forever.  He said by being honest and clear, we wouldn't be able to help but have our own style.  Because each person is designed differently, and when they strive for clarity, who they are comes out as a natural byproduct.

Maybe that will help somebody today.  Have the courage to tell the truth, or to keep your two cents out this time.  Oh, how I preach to myself in these posts!

One of America's greatest communicators, indeed one of the bravest leaders in American history said this:

"I am the master of my unspoken thoughts, and the slave to those things which should have remained unsaid."  ~ Abraham Lincoln

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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