My white-haired professor sets up a meeting with me. “Why don’t you talk more?” he asks.
My response is to go home to my roommates and complain about the guy at the front of my English class who puts his hand up to ask a question every five to seven minutes.
At least I’m not like him.
At least I’m not like the fool in Proverbs who has no control of his tongue.
Or am I the same kind of different?
I know my criticism is a mask for my fear when my professor assigns me to give a presentation. I’m quiet because I’m afraid. Afraid to be exposed. The more you talk, the more you set yourself up for error.
I was six years old when I dropped a note in her mailbox. She must have wondered why a little kid bothered to write. It’s because I was intrigued by the way she paused when she talked. Before giving advice, asking a question, she paused.
I’m sure people thought she was too quiet. I thought she was wise.
It’s where I learned quietness is a crutch unless you let the Lord control the pauses.
I remember the night she told me what meekness means. Strength controlled.
I find myself praying to live up to the definition.
Is strength really strong if it’s clumsy?
Is quietness really wisdom if it’s just a fearful reaction?
Moses, whose faltering speech was the excuse he brought before God, was later called the meekest man on earth.
When his siblings spoke against him, God defended him. “With [Moses] I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord” (Number 12:8).
So, I surrender silence. Sign up for Toastmasters. Speak up in small group.
And sometimes I don’t.
Mostly, I read what He Says. I find out what matters to say and what doesn’t. Like Moses, I speak to the One who can show me.
Lord of personality.
Lord of speech and the spaces between.
“Then the LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?’” (Exodus 4:11)