Welcome to the final post on Karen Ehman’s book , Keep It Shut.
See the post on chapters 7&8, here. You can link to past posts on previous chapters through that post.
So I’m glad to be able to reread through the book again for this post because I’ve been slipping up and speaking words not so laced with grace lately. I guess this just proves I’m human like everyone else and that this business of keeping it shut is hard. Yes, it’s hard. Especially hard when you’re trying to break a long time habit of not always weighing words carefully. Let’s jump into chapter 9.
Chapter 9 – Hurling Hate or Healing Hearts?
“In your anger, do not sin”:Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Karen begins this chapter with her own experiences of being a mama and losing her cool when asking kids to do something for the umpteenth time and they still don’t do it. Been there? I sure have. I love how she points out that children are supposed to obey their parents but no where in the Bible does it mention that parents have the right to holler and scream and carry on at them when they don’t. There has to be a better way. The scripture above can actually lead us to that better way. The book points out that in the scripture, it says ‘in your anger’ which recognizes the fact that we are born with emotions and anger is one of them. It’s ok to feel that emotion. It’s not ok to engage in wrongdoing in your reaction to that emotion. It also says, ‘Do not sin’.In other words don’t do something hurtful or abusive or belittling to someone over your angry feelings. The scripture encourages us to deal with these feelings the same day. Don’t let it stew only to bubble over later. And finally, don’t let that devil into our lives by dealing with anger in a hateful way.
Instead, we need to use better, softer words. Karen calls these Snuggy words because they remind her of her Snuggy blanket. They are warm, soft and welcoming words. Those words make soft answers that we can use to diffuse situations or answer annoying questions. Maybe the challenge for the week should be to use soft words instead of scratchy, hard ones this week when dealing with our family or co-workers. See if it makes a difference in your life?
Chapter 10 – Something To Talk About
I love this chapter because it’s all about using your words to enrich the lives of others. It’s about picking up that pen or opening an email and just catching up with someone. Connecting with a long ago friend or a mentor. I think one of the nicest things in life is receiving a hand written note. Earlier this year I bought the book, The Art Of The Handwritten Note by Margaret Shepherd and I wrote some special people notes. It felt so good to do that and even better when I received their responses of joy and surprise! If you start by thinking about how thankful you are for someone in your life, it can lead you to pen and paper or keyboard and you can bless someone in a very special way.
We know our words can build others up but they can also tear others down. Are there hurtful words or phrases that have been said to you that have stuck with you all your life? Imagine if the speaker of those words had just thought a bit about what was coming from her mouth and how that might affect the person they said it to. Karen has some guidelines to think about before you even utter one word including imagine trading places with that person, leave some things unsaid, temper your tone, consider your countenance (facial expressions, gestures), believe the best before assuming the worst, be a history changer, notice the one who least expects to be noticed and choose your timing.
Chapter 11 – Gotta Have The Last Word
“To talk well and eloquently is a very great art, but that an equally great one is to know the right moment to stop.”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
In this final chapter of the book, Karen impresses upon us to remember that the Lord knows our unformed thoughts before we say them. This is a powerful reminder that we should only speak words that please Him. Sometimes in order to be our best selves we need a few minutes or hours of quietness and reflection on scripture and how we can use our words in a pleasing manner. Karen has some thoughts on where to find a moment of quiet including attending a retreat, swapping spaces with a friend who can watch your kids while you have mom time and then switch with her so she has mom time, or go for a walk.
This chapter wraps up with a reminder to build and not break, bless and not badger, encourage not embitter and to praise and not pounce. Do you think you can do it? I know we can. Just remember when in doubt, Keep It Shut!
I have enjoyed exploring this book so much over the last few weeks. I hope you have gotten something useful out of these blog posts. I think Karen’s ideas are going to spread swiftly as I have been informed this week that Keep It Shut is now a New York Times Best Seller. Congratulations to Karen!!
I wish you the best of luck as you journey forward with gratitude in your hearts and praise on your lips.