Sticks and stones may break my bones but…

Posted: February 3, 2016 in christian prayer, religion, spiritual care, spirituality
Tags: , ,

Just because something could be said, does not mean that it should be said.

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

Learning to appreciate and practice silence is especially meaningful in regard to our relationship with others.  On this topic Sacred Scripture is “anything but” silent.  The need to control what we say to other people is mentioned many times in both the Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Testament.  About this St. James uses very strong, direct language, “If a man who does not control his tongue imagines that he devout, he is self-deceived; his worship is pointless” (James 1:26).   Most of us have said things in our life that looking back we wish we had not said, or could take back.  The words of St. James, though powerful, are not said in condemnation, or to dishearten us.  Rather, they are intended to get our attention in order to help us realize the importance and impact of what we say to others.  A similar type of statement is made in the Book of Proverbs, “Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).  The second part of the verse, “…but the tongue of the wise brings healing” is especially helpful toward the goal of becoming a more peaceful person.

It is very important to realize that the words we speak have power.  They can be used to build up, to console, to heal, and to encourage others.  On the other hand, words can be used to tear down and to emotionally destroy someone.  Most of us can relate to having used words for both purposes.  The words we speak have a powerful effect not only upon those they are spoken to, but also upon the person that speaks them.   The question we need to ask ourselves before saying words that are potentially confrontational or harsh is, “Is it worth the emotional price that will have to be paid after the words have crossed my lips?” Is it worth the emotional price to me as the speaker, or to the person being spoken to?  Will my words accomplish anything positive?  Sometimes the answer will by “yes.”  There are certainly times when sharp directive words need to be spoken.  Often, however, our sharp words are spoken as a knee-jerk reaction to what someone has said or done.  Most of the time everyone involved, including ourselves, would be better served by us holding our tongue.  We can usually address the issue later with the other person if we still feel it is important to do so after having stepped away from the situation for a while.  It is helpful to remember that just because something could be said, does not mean that it should be said.

In my work as a hospital chaplain prayer is nearly always a part of my spiritual care visits.  When I offer a prayer for someone at the bedside it is clear enough that they are comforted and appreciate it very much.  I have found, however, that one of the most healing things I can do for someone as a chaplain is to listen to their story, the whole story, without interrupting or judging them.  The visible gratitude, the sense of peace and hope that patients often feel afterward always communicates to me that a kind of inner healing has taken place for them. The person feels listened to, understood, and accepted for who they really are.  This is spiritual care at its best.  In ministry there is a time for our input, our prayer, perhaps even our advice, but it is always after keeping silent, after giving the other person the gift of our listening to them.

As we continue to grow spiritually we will come to appreciate that there is, as the book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.” We will learn that it is good to allow some measure of silence in our lives, some time to be alone.  In the silent stillness of our heart we will discover a holy solitude that will gradually give birth to the conscious awareness of our fundamental connectedness to all of creation.

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Check out “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time”   By Charles W. Sidoti with Rabbi Akiva Feinstein

The perfect book for LENT or the Festival of Passover!  Get it today on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

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