By Rachel Van Hook
It was Tuesday night, and as usual, a handful of mamas sat in one of the cozy side rooms at church. We were ready to talk about parenting, breastfeeding, weekly dinner menus, diets, marriage, and whatever else came to mind. We had maybe or maybe not read the assigned chapter for the night’s discussion, and we had maybe or maybe not been passing around sweets as if we were at a Halloween party. It was going to be a good night. This was Mom Time. I was the one who rounded up these women to meet, and my role for the evening was facilitator.
Conversation is beautiful when mamas get together. We could gather ten random moms from around the world, offer some pie and a warm drink, and within minutes a conversation would emerge. Complete strangers can banter back and forth about anything from cravings to the number of hours spent in labor.
On this Tuesday night, we had fewer women than usual. As we began to dive into Paul David Tripp’s book Parenting, I opened up the conversation with some things I’d gleaned from the chapter. After a few minutes of sharing my own thoughts, I shut my mouth. (On behalf of myself and all the other motormouths of this world, please accept my sincerest apology for being a woman who rarely shuts her mouth.)
I wasn’t too sure what would happen next. I felt these other women depended on me for conversation. But guess what. They didn’t. My friends had some thoughtful and enlightening thoughts to share. At times I silently prayed, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth!” (NKJV) in hopes that he would help me have self-control because, oh boy, did I want to interject my own thoughts and opinions! As the Spirit was leading their voices with confidence, however, he was also leading me into a submissive place of stillness and quiet.
Let me be crystal clear here: I don’t believe a guidebook exists on who should talk when and how often. God gifts people in beautifully diverse ways. If he has blessed me with a confident voice to speak and teach, he doesn’t want to diminish it in any way. My voice needs to work as a team with my ears and my heart.
We are called to be “quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1:19 NLT), and I struggle in both of those areas. I have a lot to learn. Here is what the Spirit is currently teaching this motormouth mama.
Quick to Listen
My voice needs to be in tune with my ears. That means paying attention to who’s talking. What is she saying? Am I fully listening, or am I planning what I want to say next? Does the person speaking feel as if I am engaged? Am I acknowledging her thoughts and opinions? Am I making eye contact? Am I leaving space for her to finish what she is saying before I interrupt? Could I repeat what she just said?
Slow to Speak
The Bible never instructs us to be silent when it comes to God’s Word, but it does caution us often about our mouths. “No one can tame the tongue” (James 3:8 NLT). How can we be expected to control our motormouths if no one can tame them? We must allow the Holy Spirit to be our filter so our voices can be in tune with the him. Is what I’m saying applicable? Are my words distracting? Am I leading people toward Jesus? Could what I am saying offend someone? Am I dominating the conversation in a way that prevents others from speaking?
I can only assume it’s difficult to speak when you have a friend like me who struggles to control his or her mouth. On behalf of all the filter-less friends across the world, I ask you to be patient with us as we pray this prayer: “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips” (Psalm 141:3 NLT). May we rise up to be a generation eager to hear what others have to say, rather a generation who simply loves to interject our own thoughts and opinions.
Rachel Van Hook was born and raised in the Casey Jones capital city of Jackson, Tennessee. She’s mom to three girly girls, married to her church camp sweetie, and passionate about . . . well, according to her husband, she’s just passionate! Rachel blogs at racheljvanhook.com.
Photograph © Priscilla, used with permission