How to Be Right Without Saying Anything
Inspired by the Gospel according to Luke 2:13-22.
When Josh and I first got married, there were several Christian marriage books among our various gifts. Three of those books--I believe--were all The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartin. I only read one of those copies, and regifted the others, but something she said has really stuck with me all this time:
"There's a time to speak and a time not to speak, and happy is the man whose wife can discern between the two... Sometimes anything we say will only hinder the flow of what God wants to do, so it's best to, well, shut up and pray."
Twelve years later, I still have not quite mastered this concept. BUT! I have seen many times that when I am able to employ this wisdom, things seem to unfold a lot smoother than they would have otherwise. Sometimes my husband actually wants me to help him work through some issues, and that's great. Other times, I've seen him having a hard time with something, but I realize that he's not really ready to hear what I have to say about it, so I just pray that God will speak to him in that special way that only He can. Next thing I know, Josh will come to me on his own initiative, and say that he needs to work on that very issue I've been praying about. Blows me away every time! And when Josh is the one that initiates the conversation, my words are more effective, because he is open to them.
Sometimes, however, I do get impatient and insist of giving him "constructive criticism" when he is not ready to hear it. And sometimes there are things he needs to hear whether he wants to or not. The trick is in knowing when and what to say.
Not just to our husbands, but to everyone we're in relationship with--friends, coworkers, relatives, neighbors, even our own children at some point. I struggle with this at times--either by speaking out of turn, or missing my turn to speak. But not Jesus! He's awesome at it.
In John 2:13-22, we find Jesus having one of His lively confrontations with the Pharisees who never really understand anything He's saying or doing. Neither do His disciples yet, for that matter. Still, Jesus apparently doesn't feel the need to defend Himself, or engage in some exhausting debate with the Pharisees. He knows when words help, and when they don't. He knows He's right, of course. But He also knows his audience, and that they're just not ready.
I recently read The Authentic Catholic Woman by Genevieve Kineke, and she offered similar wisdom:
"We need prudence to know when to speak, when to remain silent, when to offer help and when to wait for a more opportune time, so that the one in need is capable of responding to the guidance offered. Prayer provides the greatest light in this effort."
We don't always need to say something, but we do always need to pray and listen for the Holy Spirit to guide us. After all, it's like we tell our little ones, "You have two ears and one mouth. So you need to learn to listen more than you speak."
There are times when I say too much, and times when I know I need to say something, but I don't. Please grant me the wisdom and discernment to know when to speak and when to just be silent and pray. May my words not be motivated by an attempt to control others, or to be arrogant because I know I'm right, but let my motivation be to encourage and empower others to know You, and hear Your voice, whether it is through me that You wish to speak, or through another way.