I talk a lot. I do. I love talking as long as it’s about something I’m interested in. I don’t talk about the weather mainly because I couldn’t care les about it most days. The whole small talk thing doesn’t work for me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to talk. I mean if you look at this blog over the past year (as an example) I wrote a post every day Monday-Friday. That’s about 220 posts at an average of 600 words each for a grand total of about 150,000 words: that’s the average length of the first book in a fantasy series.
The weird thing about me though, is that I don’t expect people to listen to me. I can teach my youth group the three things I want them to take away from their time with me until I’m blue in the face, but I’ll still be surprised when they actually remember it or repeat it back to me days or weeks later.
I’m really serious here – I don’t expect people to listen to me when I talk. I am genuinely surprised when I find out people listen to me, just as I am surprised to find out that X number of people visited my blog yesterday (in which X is a number greater than the number of people in my immediate family). Now this is potentially hazardous because it means that I’m not always careful about what I say. When I’m writing things down that’s not so much of an issue because I can go back, edit, and even fix things if someone calls me on it after I’ve already hit the publish button. But in face to face relationships when I’m speaking out loud, I can’t exactly edit the words I’ve spoken. (although anyone who figures out how to do that, please e-mail me)
That’s why I tend to hang my hat on “Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.” I can say the dumbest most irrational thing on the face of the planet, but if my heart is in the right place, then chances are I have enough relationship with my audience that I can clean up the damage. They trust and know me enough to hear past the foot-in-mouth moment because they know my heart and are willing to hear me out even if they end up disagreeing completely.
Lately however, I’ve discovered that my heart can change more easily than I thought it could. Certain circumstances have forced me to be very careful in what I say and how I say it, which has resulted in some changes in my heart. I’m actually very bitter and frustrated with the fact that I have to tiptoe through the tulips and it’s really starting to show. I wouldn’t have thought the impact could be seen so quickly but it’s still there. I’ve noticed that I’ve had to be more careful about swearing during a conversation because I feel a deep seated need to just burst out. I’ve noticed that when I’m just hanging around people and joking around, my jokes tend to be harsher. I’m forgiven because “it’s all in fun” and “you know I love you” but harsh words are still harsh words.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life”
“Take every thought captive”
These are the kinds of verses that have taken on new meaning for me as I enter this next season of realizing – yeah people listen to what I say (which is very nearly as frightening as the fact that I’m going to be a dad within 60 days!) and I need to be careful about it.
What do you do to keep your words in check? Any suggestions?