What do you say?
No: really. Do you ever just stop and pay close attention to the words that plop out of your mouth--sometimes like unwelcome punch bowl guests?
Words like ugly or fat or stupid or lazy or useless.
What does what you say smell like?
It says Taste and see that the Lord is good. How do we suppose that happens?
How about on social media?
Kids can be mean as they're trying on different hats here at back-to-school-ground-zero.
But kids can be kind, too. What are they observing from us?
We have implemented the following simple strategy--if you say something ugly to someone: you apologize and say four kind, specific things. It is a 4 to 1 seed-sowing principle.
A spiritual exercise in encouragement and the rejecting dark speech.
Did you know in its etymology sarcasm means (thx, digi-pals at dictionary.com): 1570s, sarcasmus, from Late Latin sarcasmus, fromlate Greek sarkasmos "a sneer, jest, taunt, mockery,"from sarkazein "to speak bitterly, sneer," literally "to strip off the flesh," from sarx (genitive sarkos) "flesh,"properly "piece of meat," from PIE root *twerk- "to cut".
James reminds us that the tongue is a fire and it sets on fire the course of our life and is set on fire by hell. Do you believe it?
"My dad always said I would never amount to anything..." "That was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me." "I will never forget how that made me feel..."
Once a young man I treasure and mentor (who often mentors me, as this story will reveal) was over and I was not exactly deeply engaged in whatever he was trying to share with me. Likely maybe txting someone about some realimportantcantwaitbigdeal instead. I finally looked up as he long-paused me and he said, "Could you not do that, please? My dad used to do that to me all the time." He had tears in his eyes that I caused by not being present while he was trying to tell me something that was important to him.
And I told him I pray my kids grow up with that sort of confidence in my love for them, that they would always tell me when I suck or hurt them. And I owned it and apologized as best I could and thankfully he believes in me and he continued.
Sometimes I'm awesome: sometimes, I suck.
York, three or four, came up to me when I was on the phone after four o'clock one afternoon and said, "Hang up the phone, play with York!" I told whoever I was on the phone I'd just been rebuked by my three year old and I needed to go, immediately.
It says if you rebuke a wise man, he will love you more.
Is there notice-able change in my life when I say I'm sorry and I will do better next time?
I will say this: I am in process and that process for me is a little tender right now...
I'm trying to implement the say one word hear four. Speak a minute, listen four policy. Turns out, I have a lot of words.
I was at our Revive service last night and resident giant-slayer Heather Noble described two fathers; Our Father, and the father of lies. Gang: sometimes, we listen to the wrong daddies from our pain which is his favorite chew toy. One of the daddies inspires us to talk too much. The Other, punctuates His silence with speech. He is The Great Listener.
Do we ever give Him a chance to speak?
I noticed something a few Springs ago I believe the Good Good Father pointed out to me early in the morning when I was too tired to interrupt.
A spiritual hero of mine, George Washington Carver, said if you love nature, she will show you her secrets. This is a man who as a former slave, said, "Lord, the world is too big for me. Tell me about the peanut." He is credited with almost single-handedly restoring the economy of the south after the war over slavery with the revelation that came out of not only that prayer but his own early morning nature walks and follow-throughs to pursue the meanings of what he was learning and discovering.
I noticed: Spring bursts green in profound conjunction with Birdsongs. I recorded this off our back porch first thing May 4 this year, maybe 6AM.
How do you feel when you hear a song that reaches all the way in?
My dear friend Ryan sent this to me yesterday afternoon at 4:01PM, asking: you know this song? Try it: I dare you!
At 6:25PM, yesterday, I got a text from another friend who asked: "Do u have a song for me...going crazy letting the fear of breaking me financially with this divorce".
Coincidence? Come on. I had nothing until Hervey shot me the video.
Song slips right past our defenses; like Lewis used to describe--sneaking the gospel past the watchful dragon.
Birdsong has, I believe, some of the most profound effects on the planet--hidden benefits like the mighty cross-pollinating Bee. It is what they say to the trees and the seeds that makes them grow. I believe having observed the intensity of their early morning Spring symphonies over the last number of years. They do not hold back their song: they simply let it rip! And then, as the green appears, they slowly fade their groove.
Zeph 3:17 "For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."
Twelve summers ago right about now I was finishing up a forty day speaking fast.
Is it possible to go that long in the big shhh..?
Barely, but sure. My tone and the fruit of body language and the way we communicate really became wildly clearer to me that year.
Active listening and spiritual listening are profound and healing. Because we mostly don't feel heard because we mostly are not.
Confession time: there have been too many times in my married life when Christine didn't feel heard: by me.
And it stung when she finally shared it with me last week: but I was so proud that she finally did share it with me. So that is part of our glowing strategy He is revealing to us as we press in for more of His love: that we feel deeply heard and intimately known by actually listening and then listening some more.
Two ears one mouth. (Or, because the pendulum is in its arc, 4 ears, one mouth in my case.)
Cameron Crowe once penned, "We live in a cynical world. A cynical..world." But Birdsong crushes cynicism when I remember to take the coffee outside in April and May or turn on the music.
It says a spirit of praise overwhelms a spirit of heaviness. It also says that all creation is eagerly awaiting the revealing of the sons of God.
Active listening is a step towards meeting the need for comfort which won't fix but rather expresses simply I see and I care by being really present for another. By letting the speaker know you know what they said. A shortcut to it is saying, so if I'm hearing you correctly what you're saying is... And then you tell them what they just told you in your own words.
So many distractions in our lives; to be really present is an act of spiritual violence in the 21st Century.
I've missed it many times and therefore, I've many times missed her and that cuts like a knife (cue Brian Adams)..but really listening, well, it feels so right.
Again, it says you rebuke a wise man and he will love you more. Sometimes I'm more of a Why's man. Lord, teach us to be present; help make us wise.
Will we love more when somebody holds the mirror up to our blind spots?
(Remember the accuser speaks in first person--blind spots don't tell you how you're doing; the revelation of them tells you you have friends who are for you inviting welcome change!)
Would you say whatever it is that you're saying about yourself to someone you love?
If not, cut it out!
I call my wife Bird or Birdie sometimes.
And are you really listening to what the birds may be trying to sing over you?