I cannot remember a time as a child when some adult (usually my mother, but often a teacher) was not saying to me, "think before you speak." I was a precocious reader and I thought that everyone needed to know as much as I had learned and was very eager to share it. The affirmation of my cleverness by others just spurred me on to more.
While my childhood enthusiasm to share indiscriminately calmed a bit as I got older, the habit to speak without thinking first was firmly in place. I still struggle with it, especially in awkward social situations. I try to fill the empty space with empty words.
Today's Lent reading is about "The Hasty Tongue" and addresses this issue. We have all heard the expression, "speak in haste, repent at leisure" (although it is usually remodeled as Marry in Haste, Repent at leisure). The Proverb it comes from says "He who answers before listening -- that is his folly and his shame (18:13)."
I participate in Random Dozen, a meme hosted by Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee. On January 6, 2010, this was one of the questions and my response:
2. When someone else is talking, do you listen, or are you thinking about what you're going to say in response? Regrettably, I'm often thinking about my next line. Especially if it's funny...or they're having trouble getting to the point.
So yes, this is a continuing problem for me. I have learned to NOT commit to things until I've thought about them, prayed about them and talked with my husband, and I've learned to say that to people who ask me to do things, especially connected with church. But I still fill in silences with how 'clever' I am – whether it’s comments on a blog or conversation in a hall. And that often leads to people being annoyed, irritated or offended. I apologize to those who have felt bothered by my hasty speech.
Lord, help me realize that I'm much more likely to dishonor you and blemish my testimony of serving you if I jump in without praying first.