I think through what I am going to say before I say it, what I am going to write before I write it. I retype texts messages. If you read anything in my notebooks you will find lines through lots of parts. My mind has an almost constant stream of verbal dialogue running. I have days where I can’t keep up with it all. No, I am not insane! It’s just the way I am wired. I think through things I have said, things I should have said, things I wish I had not said. Some conversations and thoughts run through my head for days.
In an argument I can never find the words to say, I stand there like a gawping fish, my mouth opening and shutting with nothing coming out. After the argument every possible excellent comeback comes to mind, everything I should have said is there waiting for me, taunting me. When someone verbally attacks me it’s even worse, and the only response is the one to fight away tears.
Why do I do it? As I say, part of it is who I am, but not all of it by any means.
Have you ever said something to someone that you wish you could take back the moment it slips from your lips? Have you had a conversation with someone and part way through the conversation they suddenly turn silent and you have no idea even slightly what you just said to cause it? Have you ever had someone walk out of your life permanently because you said ‘what’ when you genuinely didn’t hear what they said? Have you said and thought something that turned out to be untrue and it offended them so much they refused to talk to you no matter how many times you apologised?
It amazing what affects words can have, both good and bad, what damage you can inflict with them.
I realised that I cannot change what comes out of my mouth, once it has been said, there’s no taking it back. Once out in the open people can, and do, make judgements of it. I can’t replay time and have the conversation all over again with all the things retrospectively I wish I had said. I can’t have both sides of the conversation and have it turn out exactly as I want it to.
I came to the conclusion, wrongly, that it was better just not to talk, not to let people so close that I would be able to hurt them, that they wouldn’t then be able to walk out on me. Saying nothing, leads to not hurting people. So that’s the way it became. I didn’t share my life, I didn’t enter into deep conversations. I hid in the background hoping no one would notice me or be hurt by me.
I used various Bible verses in my mind to justify the decision. Verses about how it’s better to remain silent than be thought a fool, how reckless words piece like swords. I felt that my voice in the crowd was not a valuable or helpful one, so I stopped using it.
The self-editing became worse because there was so much more that remained unsaid, so many more unstated arguments, so many conversations I wish I had had. I almost began to loathe the things I thought, not because they are bad but simply because I heard them so often without an other side to the conversation, without outside input. I know I don’t think the way everyone else does and I had an underlying feeling that because others don’t think the way i do, so maybe I was wrong.
In spite of how lonely I became, I still thought the world would be better without my input. Apparently God has other ideas!
I figured that remaining silent was a good thing. But that’s simply not true. The Bible talks about the value of speaking up for those who don’t have a voice, of declaring the goodness of God, of sharing the irrefutable testimony of what God has done in our lives. If I stay silent none of those happen. And beyond all that, what if God has a specific purpose for my voice, in saying nothing I am preventing that from happening, and being disobedient.
God challenged me a while back to find some new friends, ones I could open up to and be honest with. Slowly He is bringing people into my path for that purpose, and for that I am incredibly thankful.
Editing for me though is unavoidable, I can’t stop the train of unending mental yabber from happening but I can choose to use my voice and how I do that. I can chose to still be careful about what I say, to say the best and most encouraging of things rather than be negative and critical, but to say something. So that is what I am doing. I am opening my mouth (well not always my physical mouth, as I have not yet worked out how to blog verbally and make it translate to words on the page!!) to share my life and experience. I am declaring what God has done in my life and who He is. And I am letting people know me, to hear me. It’s tough changing the habits of a lifetime, and certainly not something I could do without God’s help, but I am slowly beginning to see a side of myself that I hadn’t expected, one that wants to speak!