Have been chewing on this quote from Celebration of Discipline for a while now:
Control rather than no noise is the key to silence... Under the discipline of silence and solitude we learn when to speak and when to refrain from speaking. The disciplined person is the person who can do what needs to be done when it needs to be done...A person who is under the discipline of silence is a person who can say what needs to be said when it needs to be said. (Prov 25:11) If we are silent when we should speak we are not living in the discipline of silence. If we speak when we should be silent, we again miss the mark.
Oh this is hard for me. So hard!
I hate confrontation and conflict. Hate it. I am always afraid to share my thoughts, feelings, etc. with loved ones. I am afraid that what I say will make them so mad or hurt them so badly that the relationship is destroyed. To preserve the relationship and keep the "peace," I hold things in. Things that should be said.
Like most folks, this comes from a childhood lived in dysfunction. Things that should have been brought out into the open, discussed, resolved were not addressed. If person A was upset with person B he/she would never talk to him/her directly, but would instead stew in sullen silence, or talk with person(s) C, D, E, J, R, etc. Other things were completely ignored with none of the persons talking about it to anyone, even though everyone was scared/worried/hurt/frustrated/angry about the issue.
I still do this. I fret and worry and stress about things that scare me or upset me, but don't say anything about them. Even when a loved one - a safe person - asks me what is wrong, I will sometimes freak out and not share what is going on inside me.
Silence when I should speak.
I am also fairly creative and a good problem solver, and an encourager. So there are other situations when I talk too much. A friend might be hurting or struggling in an area and I have "50 Sure-fire Perfect Solutions" or a "Simple Five Step Plan for Making Life Awesome," and instead of just listening as he/she wrestles verbally with the issue, I launch into advising and counseling and problem solving, oftentimes unbidden.
This seems to be just a part of my personality. I don't mean any harm, and don't mean to puff myself up. I'm just excited and like solving problems. Exhortation, baby! But whether I mean to be arrogant or not, it is presumptuous to solve peoples problems for them and to tell them all about what they must do - especially when they didn't ask for my help! Its a form of control, really. And its not my job.
Speaking when I should be silent.
Wading through this is difficult and painful and scary. I've been working on this for years, trying to figure out when to speak and when to just-shut-the-hell-up-already. And I think I still get it wrong most of the time.
Being with MM has really helped me with the first part. He genuinely wants me to tell him when something has scared or upset me. He doesn't want anything to ever be an unspoken barrier between us. He welcomes tough conversations as a way to grow closer and more loving. He is kind and loving and patient and gentle as I learn how to do this. I am thankful for his goodness to me.
And the practice of solitude and silence is helping with the second. When my mind starts racing with "solutions" to a friends "problem" I am learning to keep that to myself and just listen. My desire is that if I offer anything at all, its sympathy and affirmation. To offer true encouragement instead of unsolicited advice. I don't always get this right, but I'm trying.