One of the things that would make life easy is the ability to hit pause, it would make life a million times better; don’t believe me, follow my thought pattern for a moment. Aren’t you glad you can hit the pause button on your phone as you get into position to mime and dance to your favourite part of a song, to pause a movie so you can bring delicious brownies out of the oven then enjoy them as the movie continues, at least I do! I am thankful that I can pause my Insanity workout video so I don’t die from trying to please Shaun T as he yells “jump, jump, you can do it!” You probably have some weird parts of a song that you like to pause and sing along to, that’s right…you’re thinking of it right now; hehehe, no judgement here! I have plenty believe me.
Now wouldn’t it be amazing if we could pause before we say something to someone that could potentially alter the course of their lives? The Bible tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue, yet we often spew words out of our mouth as though they have no consequences, forgetting that they carry the power of life and death. To be able to think things through and just pause before we say them, how life giving that would be! Let’s look at a few instances…
I have told people in my close circle that they are banned from telling me things like “God will provide a husband for you”, “It will happen when you stop looking” … What exactly is the it that will happen??! Now I don’t want to be misunderstood here, I am not disputing that these people are sharing what they believe to be true, however, they are not complete truths. For example, when you say that God will provide a husband or a child for someone because He wants her to live a full and complete life, you’re inadvertently saying that her life is incomplete and until she gets married, she cannot live a full life. Most of the people who say these things mean well, some mean the best for me, but they do not pause and think before they speak.
Pause, think for a second about how these words I’m about to speak will affect the person I’m talking to.
Recently I was thinking about a friend of mine who was distraught because she desperately wanted a daughter after having four sons, and my instant reaction on the inside was to say “are you crazy? You have four sons! What do you have to be upset about? Some people can’t even have one child and have been trying for years, be thankful!” However, I have learned to pause… the fact that other people are struggling, and she seems to have a lot more than they do does not invalidate her needs and desires, and I do not have a right to debase them either! I have learned to pause, think about what she is telling me and speak to her in love based on what I am hearing from her and what love dictates. Her needs are valid and real, andI have no right to discount them no matter what.
Have you ever been in a situation where someone is sharing a story of something that happened to them, it’s intense and they are really hyped about it but the entire time, you’re thinking “oh yeah, wait till I share my story with you!” What is it that keeps us from just enjoying their moment, sharing their joys or sorrows and saving our stories for another day? The ability to pause and say to ourselves “self, you know what, this story can wait” takes strength, maturity and knowledge of the fact that our story will one day be shared, even if it is not this day. This day, we listen to another, celebrate with or mourn with another.
My mum had a small sign on our toilet door when I was a kid and it read:
Words are like bullets, once they are spoken, they can never be swallowed
The speaker may regret, weep and mourn
But the damage done by the spoken words can never be recalled
So, think well before you speak.
I constantly challenge myself to ensure that when I leave conversations, the people I talk to feel uplifted and possibly challenged to dream bigger; I don’t always succeed at doing that, but I am well on my way. I commit to taking a deep breath as I pause, and choose to speak life, join me, will you?