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Four connected ideas, one summation: quick to talk but slow to listen.

In thinking about recent things I’ve experienced where careless words have surprisingly hurt, this list assembled itself.

Hiding things in your heart has value.

In Luke 2, we’re told that Mary—who had just been part of the single biggest event in world history to date—hid it all in her heart.

In Social Media Universe, we hide nothing. We share photos of food, daily activities, hobbies, and even ourselves exercising. We talk to the phone camera as if having a conversation with our best friend, sharing our opinion about everything. We spill all our dirty laundry publicly, every problem and drama and fear and hurt. Everything we do has an audience as if our entire life must be validated.

We’d probably be better off hiding more things in our hearts and talking about them with God only, instead of running the world to get bad advice or sympathy emojis. We talk about our problems, our successes, and ourselves more than God’s provision.

What happens when you keep things private, and ponder them together with God?

You give him a chance to work in you and eventually through you.

Instead of getting cheap words of comfort and moving on without thought, or a permissive “you go girl” from the world, you give God a chance to turn that hurt or anger into something that will cause you to grow in the way he intends.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

When something becomes familiar, it is more difficult to respect. It loses any sense of boundaries. We’re so accustomed to it in our lives that we treat it casually. Any hierarchy that should be there isn’t.

I’ve seen youth talking to adults on social media in a way that if I had done so to my elders back in the day, I’d have been chewing on a bar of soap in minutes. Perhaps there was a benefit in not knowing what my grandma would say politically or what my aunt was eating for lunch. It’s easier to respect someone if they seem like an other, a potential role model, instead of just another life up for our daily consumption, another person we can talk casually or flippantly to as if they were our peer.

In a world where everyone demands equality to the point that we think a child has equal authority to make decisions as their parent, there seems to be no other path than further contempt. How do you honor your father and mother, how do you respect your elders, if you equate yourself to them?

The world is full of fine lines.

There’s a fine line between staying in contact with friends and loved ones and becoming too familiar. There’s a fine line between sharing and over-sharing. There’s a fine line between sharing true heartbreak and feeding negative emotions. There’s a fine line between a funny joke and a cruel response.

These fine lines aren’t always the same for everyone in every situation, but that quiet voice of the Holy Spirit, that inner nudging to close the mouth or skip an event or turn off the phone and listen, is how we suss out those fine lines.

But they’re so fine that we usually plow over them and end up in the swamp and wonder how we got there.

Think of a tripwire. It’s a fine line, too.

We talk too soon about what is too new.

In the same way that the younger you are, the more you think you know everything, when we’re new to something, we’re sure we understand or grasp it firmly enough to speak authoritatively about it.

I miss the days of my teens through my early 30s when I understood the world completely and absolutely knew the lay of the land well enough to roll my eyes at those who were older when they gently tried to suggest I put on the brakes.

At 49, I don’t understand much of anything. I can’t believe I made it this far without ceasing to exist, so great is my lack of understanding and incredulity about how the world really works.

There are times when a new habit, new life change, new experience, new whatever is so exciting that we want to talk about it immediately. We want to tell the world what we’re doing, and as many intricacies behind it as we can, extrapolating where we expect to end up. It’s sort of like trying to show vacation photos before you’ve actually taken the vacation.

We talk about success before we arrive there.

“Fake it ‘til you make it,” I heard when I worked at a startup. “Minimum viable product” I was told when I protested releasing a creaky version of software that would only annoy potential customers. “We’ll build it in the background but we gotta get it out there now.”

We talk about how to best live your life when we’re still young. We talk about the system or method we came up with to live an optimal life assuming that what God led us to do is surely what he’d lead everyone to do.

You lose it if you talk about it.

Someone once told me that you “lose it if you talk about it” and attributed that quote to Hemingway. I don’t know if that’s who said it or not. But I get the point. We’re quick to talk about something before it’s ready, if it ever is.

But of course we do.

We’re told that talking about things is part of how we get to a healthy mental place, how we “build awareness” and create change; we’ll never let the scabs heal. We’ll always be Lot’s wife, down the road but looking back at the fire.

We’re quick to talk, slow to listen.

We’re quick to lay claim, slow to acknowledge.

We’re quick to share, slow to ponder privately with God.

There are things in life that only have so much mileage in them, so much gas in the tank, and we run it dry by talking about it instead of going for the full ride.


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