Welcome back to the blog miniseries on Karen Ehman’s book, Keep It Shut.
If you missed the post on chapters 3 & 4, you can find it here. You can find links to weeks 1 & 2 on that post as well.
Chapter 5 has everything to do with Motives and Manners. Ah yes, we are learning to speak the truth but warned to watch our delivery of those words.
“Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” (Proverbs 29:20).
Have you ever said something that was completely true but the reason why you said it was really just to hurt the person you were speaking with? Maybe just a little? A tiny jab or mention of something they did but maybe could have done better? When you think back on that experience, were those words, delivered in that way, truly helpful or necessary?
In this chapter Karen urges us to examine our motives realizing that we can fool ourselves into thinking those words were helpful but we can’t really fool God.
In addition to examining our motives, we also need to think about our sly tongues and how speaking in vague or misleading terms is dishonest. Instead we should be letting God’s words shape our hearts. It goes back to spending time with God’s word and filling our hearts and mouths with righteous words and thoughts. Often when we replay past conversations in our minds, we see the hurt that we may or may not have intended. Have these moments been preceded in spending ample time with God?
Karen’s suggestions for finding more time for scripture include investing in a pocket Bible, listening to the Bible on cd in the car and getting a Bible app for your smartphone.
Now flip these ideas we have been talking about…what about when we are the target of someone else’s hurtful words? What do we do? The only thing to do as Karen suggests is to be tough skinned and tenderhearted. When I saw this paragraph in the book, I highlighted it and wrote RIGHT????? next to it…I’m a person who allows my feelings to be hurt very easily, I felt she wrote this just for me…
“When we harden our hearts and let every little offense poke a hole in our happiness, we only hurt ourselves. We are slurping on a smoothie of poison, and don’t even know it. But when we soften our hearts with love for others, and toughen our skins against their barbs, we are better equipped to show the compassionate love of Jesus to a watching world.”
Chapter 6 talks about Behind The Screen, Controlling Your Digital Tongue
This chapter will only become more and more important as time goes on and newer social media outlets pop up in addition to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as email. What could be easier than social media for saying every thought that enters our heads without using a mental filter first? How much trouble can we get into with this? LOTS, that’s how much. It is so easy to throw something snarky out there and not have to say it face to face with the person whom it’s directed to. And email…oh my goodness. Email can not convey our tone of voice or level of sarcasm so it’s easy to misinterpret words being sent back and forth. It’s a breeding ground for discontent and not only for the youth of our world but for the adults as well.
It amazes me to see the wealth of nasty comments left on the blog posts of folks just trying to share something in their lives as simple as a recipe or funny story. I can’t get over how people think it is possibly ok to say such nasty things online. So what can we do to break this cycle?
Karen has some great rules for what she calls The Cyberspace Playground. Her rules include praying before you post, imagine the recipient sitting next to you, remember that being online is like being on stage, ask yourself if your opinion is even warranted and most importantly, when you do speak, let your speech be laced with grace!
This chapter also includes a lesson on salty speech. Salt is a wonderful flavor enhancer used all over the world. Could we use our words to enhance the lives of those around us? Salt is also a preservative. Could we use our words to be the salt of the earth and preserve God’s truth both in person and online? Salt can do a lot of other things that Karen explores in depth including how too much salt can ruin a dish!
I want to share a story with you about an experience I had on social media a few years back. I was sitting in the waiting area of my doctor’s office to have a yearly exam. There was a young, pregnant woman also waiting for an appointment. When this young woman was called to have her glucose sugar test, she asked the nurse if she could step outside to have a cigarette first. I was fairly new to Facebook and I immediately whipped out my phone to post something like, “Please tell me this pregnant person didn’t just…” and you can figure out the rest. Of course several people replied to my post of how terrible that person must be and how ignorant. Later that day, I saw a Facebook notification come through on my phone from a long ago friend that read something like this: Maybe that mother is trying to quit smoking and she’s finding it very hard and that was her only cigarette of the day.
Huh. I was stopped in my tracks. I went online to Facebook to reply to her comment and the comment was gone. She had posted her comment and deleted it believing I would never see it except that it came through on my cell phone as a notification. A few days later, that friend passed away. I believe with all my heart that I was supposed to receive that notification. I never responded to her regarding the post before she died. I hope she knows what a valuable lesson she taught me in her final days.
The challenge for the week ahead is to practice thinking about your digital words before you type them. Are those words encouraging or cutting? Are those words called for from you? Are you the best person to advise another on a particular topic? If the answer is no, then perhaps you should Keep It Shut.